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Will the Online Fraud Charter protect you from scammers?

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox

The Online Fraud Charter is a first-of-its-kind agreement to tackle online fraud. 

Made between the UK government and tech companies like social networks and online dating platforms, it lays out measures that companies should implement to reduce fraud on their platforms. In turn, this means a safer experience for users, with less chance of losing money to scams. 

We’re digging deeper into what companies following the Online Fraud Charter are doing. We’ll also share our in-house expert’s insights and tips to stay safe online. 

The Online Fraud Charter covers a range of measures 

Companies that have signed the Online Fraud Charter are committing to put a range of anti-fraud measures in place. They are required to: 

  • Block fraudulent material from being shared. This includes identifying and removing suspicious content and users effectively. It also covers preventing fraudsters from creating new accounts. 
  • Have quick and simple ways for users to report fraud. The Online Fraud Charter defines this as something you can access within two clicks.  
  • Take action against fraudulent content and users straight away. This means removing content and users as soon as they're suspected to be fraudulent.  But it also covers making sure users who’ve been hacked can regain access to their accounts and have them reinstated. 
  • Protect users from fraudulent adverts. This includes requiring new advertisers to go through additional verification steps, confirming the authorisation of regulated businesses like finance companies, and screening ads for suspicious content and links. 
  • Help users recognise and avoid online fraud. Companies will create new content and add extra articles on fraud to their help centres. They'll also promote government communications about spotting and avoiding fraud.  
  • Work with the industry to stamp out online fraud. Tackling online fraud is a group effort. Companies will join industry initiatives to share knowledge quickly and take part in exercises to stay one step ahead. They'll also appoint dedicated people to respond to police and other law enforcement queries. 

Some of the top global tech companies have signed the Online Fraud Charter 

The Online Fraud Charter has been developed between the UK government and some of the biggest tech companies in the world. Among the companies that have signed the Online Fraud Charter are: 

  • Google 
  • Amazon 
  • eBay 
  • Facebook 
  • Instagram 
  • Snap Inc. 
  • TikTok 
  • X (formerly Twitter) 
  • YouTube 
  • LinkedIn 
  • Match Group (the parent company of Tinder, OKCupid, Hinge, and Match.com) 

Companies that have signed the Online Fraud Charter aren’t guaranteed to be fraud-free 

We talked to our in-house fraud expert, Ben Fleming, about what the Online Fraud Charter means for you. He said: 

“The Online Fraud Charter helps bring online organisations further into the fight against fraud. Companies that have signed it should see fewer victims of fraud through their platforms in time. But although the charter is a huge step forward, we still need to be aware that fraudsters will never stop trying to adapt. We must all remain aware of the threats.” 

Here are Ben’s top tips to stay safe when using online platforms, and particularly those who’ve signed the Online Fraud Charter: 

Take advantage of enhanced security features 

Many companies are introducing extra security features to keep you and your accounts safe. For example, you may see more platforms using two-factor authentication when you log in or doing extra identity checks on their users. Take advantage of these features when you see them. They can help keep fraudsters from contacting you and from hacking your accounts. 

Stay suspicious 

Even with extra verification checks and speedy action against scams, some fraudsters may still slip through. Stay suspicious of any adverts, deals, or even people who seem too good to be true. They probably are! 

Pay for online marketplace purchases using secure payment platforms 

If you’re shopping on marketplace platforms, make sure you use a secure payment method. Bank transfers are a big no-no. Instead, use PayPal wherever you can, or pay cash on collection. The “Goods and Services” option comes with protection for both buyers and sellers if something goes wrong. Avoid the “Friends and Family” option on PayPal. This will remove any protection you have through them.     

Think twice before you click 

If someone sends you a link online, even someone you trust, be careful. If, for example, the sender's account has been hacked, it could have come from a scammer, not them. They could be using this link to try to steal your personal information. 

Read platforms’ help centre pages on fraud 

Make sure you read companies' help centre pages on how to spot and avoid fraud with them. They may give you examples of the types of scams they find most often. Then, you'll know what to look out for and how to report it. 

What to do if you come across online fraud 

If you see content online or are contacted by someone who you think is a fraudster, here’s what to do: 

  • Don’t engage. It can be tempting to do your own detective work, but don’t! If you see anything fraudulent online, don’t click or respond. 
  • Report it to the platform. Tell them about anything suspicious that you come across. They will then investigate and take the post, advert, or account down. If it turns out not to be fraud, they’ll reinstate the user or content. 
  • Report fraudulent adverts to the ASA. If you come across fraudulent ads online, report them to the Advertising Standards Authority. They’ll share your report with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). 

And if you’re a victim of online fraud, you should also report it to: 

  • Your bank. If you’ve sent money or given your financial details to a fraudster, tell your bank straight away. They can help protect your account and retrieve the money you’ve lost (in some cases). 
  • The police. Inform Action Fraud or, if you’ve sent money to a scammer in the last 24 hours, call your local police on 101. Remember, if you or anyone near you is in immediate danger, call 999. 

Disclaimer: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.

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