Interactive Investor

interactive investor comments on the Online Safety Bill

14th December 2021 11:41

Myron Jobson from interactive investor

Our personal finance campaigner highlights the merits of the bill, but stresses that the onus still falls on individuals to avoid financial harm.

Myron Jobson, Personal Finance Campaigner, interactive investor, says: “The Online Safety Bill in itself won’t plug the flood of financial scams that have mushroomed during the pandemic or offer complete protection against harmful content that can not only result in emotional and psychological harm, but financial peril as well. The onus still falls on individuals to avoid financial harm – there is no getting around it.

“Online searches are a great way of getting financial guidance and ideas, but it can be a minefield. The internet is a rich trolling ground for unscrupulous individuals to convince unsuspecting victims to part with their hard-earned money. Fraudsters are only too willing to exploit any ignorance or naivety.

“Social media is a blessing and a curse. It provides a platform to share opinions and there is some good material out there to help people on their investment journey. The advent of broader online ‘influencers’ has seen rise of ‘financial influencers’ – some of whom haven’t got a clue on what they are talking about to put it bluntly. It’s important to check the credentials and quality of your sources.

“The FOMO culture that shrouds social platforms like TikTok, Reddit and Instagram has become a breeding ground for the marketing of high-risk investments shunned by the mainstream investment industry – often for good reason. 

“The online safety bill does, to some extent, impose a duty of care on the gatekeepers of the internet (social media companies included) to protect users from harmful content - or face substantial fines levied by Ofcom. Whether it goes far enough remains to be seen.

“Greater financial education is key to help people make informed choices relating to their finances. interactive investor this week sent a joint letter with the judges of its Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards to the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt. Hon. Nadhim Zahawi MP, and Wanda Goldwag, Chair of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, calling for a series of measures to address the effect of a lack of financial capability in the UK.

“Financial scams have become more sophisticated in trying to pass themselves off as legitimate, and while the bill goes some way in curtailing the threat of online scams, many are bound to slip through the cracks. Scammers don’t discriminate – they cast a wide net, hoping the sheer quantity of potential victims will yield sufficient monetary haul.

“There are tell-tale signs to look out for such as a dodgy-looking website address, poor grammar and spelling, a lack of reliable contact information. But scams are becoming ever more sophisticated and we all need to be on our guard. Never trust anyone wanting personal information and remember: if it seems too good to be true then it is indeed too good to be true.”

Among the many recommendations are:

  • The inclusion of fraud and scams
  • The Bill should also be expanded to cover paid-for advertising, such as those involving scams
  • The Bill imposes a duty of care on tech companies to protect users from harmful content, or face substantial fines levied by Ofcom, the communications regulator.

You can read the Online Safety Bill here.

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