Pensions minister slams Google over online fraud

Pensions minister Guy Opperman has criticised Google for not doing enough to stop fraudsters promoting investment scams.

In an interview with The Times, he accused the search engine of failing to vet advertisers properly.

The comments are the latest Opperman has made over several months in the context of pension scams.

On 10 March it was reported Opperman met senior Google executives to discuss the matter in person.

In the interview today, Opperman says the public should not trust what they find on Google due to soaring numbers of investment scams.

The search engine giant has separately told Money Marketing it has been working closely with the FCA, sharing information and expertise.

In early 2020, Google says it asked the FCA to notify it when the watchdog makes additions to its warning list.

Google reveals it blocked or removed more than 123 million ads last year for violating its financial services policies.

Campaigners have urged MPs to close loopholes that allow fraudsters to exploit vulnerable individuals online.

They have focused their efforts on getting legislators to change the Online Harms Bill so it includes financial harm.

New powers in the Pension Schemes Act contain measures to enable pension schemes to take action where they suspect scam activity.

The rules require members to take guidance if they wish to make certain transfers and enable trustees to prevent a transfer in certain circumstances.

The Department for Work and Pensions has also issued a new warning about unscrupulous scammers operating online.

Commenting in the release, Opperman says: “Scammers who steal people’s hard-earned savings are the lowest of the low and the government is working closely with its partners on the best ways to combat, and raise awareness of, pension fraud.

“I have been very clear that some tech companies are failing pension savers; they must do more to crack down on scam adverts and should use their existing powers to verify advertisers and stop taking money from fraudsters who are online scammers using their site to promote fake adverts.

“My message to savers is simple: If you are considering making changes to your finances and retirement planning this new tax year – stay on your guard, and speak to a legitimate IFA or consult PensionWise, which is free and independent.”

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Pensions minister slams Google over online fraud

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