Why UK government should introduce stringent law to counter frauds


  • Online scams reached record levels during the pandemic in UK and the most common scam last year includes auction fraud, online shopping.
  • A September 2021 survey revealed that 68% customers do not trust the tech giants to protect them against online scams.
  • The government and regulators should take immediate actions to prevent rising scams, frauds, and fake reviews on various online platforms.

As scams and fraudulent activities, dangerous products and fake reviews appearing on the online platforms are increasing in the UK, there is a buzz that the Boris Johnson government and regulator should bring some stringent laws or take steps to make online platforms take responsibility and prevent customers.

A survey of 2,000 UK citizens, conducted in September 2021, revealed that around 68% UK customer do not trust the Tech giants to protect them against online frauds. Which? launched its #JustNotBuyingit campaign to urge the regulators and government to take immediate actions, making these tech companies take responsibility for the harms taking place on their platforms.

The customer group said that it is time to stop believing that the tech giants will be bringing any rule or changes to prevent fraud. Instead, the government should introduce new rules to better protect people and make internet platforms legally responsible. 

The survey also found that in the last 12 months around 18% people purchased many unsafe products, which posed safety or health risk from leading online platforms such as eBay, AliExpress, Amazon and Wish.

Around 89% of people said that they use online reviews before buying such products, whereas 6% said they believe online marketers/ platforms such as Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Amazon are taking necessary steps to protect users from fake reviews. Around 18% revealed that they do not trust the platform to be so responsible.

Detecting fake reviews may be difficult for the users. Around 41% of the users said that they find it difficult to detect whether a review is fake or genuine and only 17% said that they can easily detect fake reviews. 

The survey found that two-third of the 250 products tested across 18 product categories purchased from the leading online market platform failed to pass the safety tests and banned products such as toys and car seats are sold through unapproved sellers, which are illegal to be sold in the UK.

A survey conducted in 2019, revealed that only 21% of the British Online platform users are aware that these platforms have no legal responsibility for the safety of the products available in their websites. Around 90% users believe that the platforms should be either solely or jointly involved in product recalls and around 70% users believed that the law should change to make this the legal responsibility of the online platforms.

Also read: Online Scams: UK consumers clueless on how to avert frauds

Scam on an online platform

Online scam is one of the most persistent and considerable threats to customers. In the UK, just 35% of the public believes that online marketers are taking responsibility to protect their customers from harm and frauds whereas 51% do trust little or not at all.

Around 8% respondent revealed that they have been a victim of online scam as a result of using online platform. Of those, 39% said it has negatively affected their mental health with regard to financial situations and 51% said it has negatively affected their financial condition.

Online scams reached record levels during the pandemic in UK and the most common scam last year includes auction fraud, online shopping, accounting for one in four of the incidents reported. Also, one in 10 online platform users had been scammed by an advertisement they came across in their social media feed or search engine results. 

Online platforms play a critical role in allowing frauds to reach and defraud platform users through promoting, hosting and targeting of fake and fraudulent content on their sites.

Also read: How do I report a Bitcoin fraud?

Tech giants’ stand

Google said that they are closely working with Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for over a year to protect UK users, implement new measures and legitimate companies in the financial sector. Further, the company has launched restrictions that need to be fulfilled by the financial services advertisers and to be authorised by the FCA with carefully control exceptions. 

Amazon revealed that it has invested over US $700 million to innovate with industry leading tools to protect the morality of its reviews so customer can look for genuine feedbacks to shop confidently. The company has also employed over 10,000 employs last year to protect users from fraud and abuse. It also urged its customers to report or contact customer service in case of any issue.

Facebook said that the company would continue to invest in innovative technologies to protect its users from frauds and scams also it is dedicating notable resources to tackle the online scams such as blocking advertisers, detecting scam ads, and in some cases taking legal action. The company has also donated £3 million to enhance awareness regarding online scams and help the victims.

eBay said its priority is to protect customers and enhance their confidence to shop safely on its platform. The company is working to block listings that do not follow its policies, its dedicated team manually reviews and removes listings, and the company has established a regulatory portal that allows authorities to directly report and remove listings. In 2020, the company blocked six million unsafe listings.

Also read: 7 new crypto scams that investors should watch out for