Aviva Fraud Report finds low consumer trust in online adverts for financial services

Aviva is calling for greater consumer protection from online financial fraud by urging government to include financial scams promoted by paid-for adverts in the scope of the Online Safety Bill. 

The latest Aviva Fraud Report launched today, has found consumers have low trust in the internet as a tool for shopping for financial services*. 

The report found more than half of internet users (53%) don’t trust that the adverts on search engines are placed by legitimate financial services providers and 56% don’t believe that search engines verify the authenticity of the financial product, service, or provider that they allow to be advertised on their platform. 

Rob Lee, Director of Fraud Prevention at Aviva, said: “There is a clear mistrust of financial services adverts online. However, there is no legal responsibility for technology firms to verify the legitimacy of the companies which pay them to publish adverts on their platforms. This potentially leaves millions of internet users exposed to unscrupulous adverts.”

 “We believe the Online Safety Bill presents an opportunity to protect financial services consumers at every stage of their online journey. We welcome the recent inclusion of user-generated fraud - such as that promoted on social media sites - within the scope of the regulatory framework. We support the financial services industry in calling for the legislation to include financial scams promoted by paid-for adverts.”

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for action

While the types of financial scams are generally the same as those pre-pandemic, coronavirus has been used as a hook to lure victims and introduced opportunities for fraudsters in COVID-related scams. 

Since the publication of our first Fraud Report undertaken in July last year, there has been a 91% increase in the number of people who reported receiving emails, texts, phone calls and other communications mentioning coronavirus, and which were suspected to be a financial scam. 

Rob said: “It’s clear we’re a long way from the Government’s commitment to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online. The current online environment combined with challenging economic conditions and increased financial strain on consumers is creating the perfect storm for fraudsters to exploit the most vulnerable. The Government must act quickly to protect more consumers from becoming the victim of online fraud, by ensuring financial scams are included in the Online Safety Bill.”  

Read the report in full here

*All figures, unless stated otherwise, are from Aviva’s research, conducted by Censuswide with a sample of 2,005 nationally representative respondents, between 30 June and 5 July 2021. Categorising the pandemic time frame between 1 March 2020 and 5 July 2021, and the pre-pandemic time frame categorised as 1 January 2019 and 28 February 2020. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.