Government taskforce must not let businesses off the hook on scams

As new research reveals 85% of people think businesses should have equal or greater responsibility than consumers for protecting them from online fraud and scams, Which? is calling on the Government to take action.

Which? today launches its ‘Safeguard us from Scams’ campaign, calling on the Government’s Joint Fraud Taskforce to review how businesses take responsibility when their customers are scammed, and report by the end of the year.

The Government should be doing more to put pressure on businesses to protect people from fraudsters’ ever-more sophisticated tactics, and not leave the onus on consumers to protect themselves.

Which? research shows around six in ten (62%) say they have been targeted by online fraudsters in the past 12 months, with the most common types of scams and fraud being:

  • Phishing emails – emails purporting to be from a bank or payment service (49%)
  • Phishing messages that seek money for services/help, e.g. a friend stuck abroad (26%) and
  • Bogus computer support (25%).

There is evidence that fear of scams is starting to affect consumer behaviour, as half of people (48%) say they do not use certain online products, services or apps for fear of being targeted by scammers.

While Which? welcomes the establishment of the Joint Fraud Taskforce, set up by Home Secretary Theresa May in February this year, its focus should be widened, to look at how businesses across all sectors can protect consumers from fraud and scams.

Which? is calling on the Government’s Joint Fraud Taskforce to:

  • Examine whether companies are taking enough responsibility when their customers are defrauded
  • Investigate what improvements should be made to the processes, systems and practices firms use to prevent fraud, and
  • Recommend, by the end of the year, how companies can better protect their customers from fraud.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:

“When we know that even the savviest people can be scammed by fraudsters, it’s vital that everything possible is done by businesses to better protect consumers. And where firms haven’t done enough to protect their customers, it’s entirely right that the responsibility to put things right should be with them.

“The Government’s Taskforce must not let businesses off the hook, more must be done to prevent fraud and protect consumers.”


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Notes to Editor:

  • As part of the campaign, Which? will reveal a range of cases where people were duped into making erroneous payments by scammers or whose identities were stolen, despite having followed all of the guidance.
  • Populus, on behalf of Which? surveyed an online sample of 2066 UK residents between 22nd and 24th April 2016. The responses were weighted to represent the demographic characteristics of the population as a whole.
  • The Office for National Statistics estimated that there were around 5.1 million incidents of fraud in the UK last year – that’s approximately one in every ten adults.
  • Which? launched a ‘Safeguard Us from Scams’ campaign today at
  • Which? is encouraging members of the public to sign its ‘Safeguard Us from Scams’ petition calling on the Government to act.
  • Which? Responded to Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s comments on online bank fraud in March 2016. The full statement can be accessed here.

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