Online Scams: Consumer Protection

Part of British Meat and Dairy Products – in Westminster Hall at 4:21 pm on 28th April 2021.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Chair, Work and Pensions Committee, Chair, Work and Pensions Committee 4:21 pm, 28th April 2021

I congratulate Ruth Edwards on securing the debate and on the powerful case she made. The Pensions Scams Industry Group estimates that 40,000 people, like Mr and Mrs Biggs, were scammed out of pension savings in the five years after the introduction of the pension freedoms and lost £10 billion between them. As she explained, losing pension savings after a lifetime of work is a devastating experience, and she is right that most of the problem is online. In September, Aviva told the Work and Pensions Committee that in the previous six months—since the start of lockdown—it had identified 27 fake websites purporting to be Aviva trying to defraud pension-age customers of their investments.

As the hon. Member said, the Government have the chance to tackle this enormous problem in the forthcoming online safety Bill, but it appears, extraordinarily, that financial harms are to be carved out of it. I hope that the Minister can encourage us that that might be reconsidered. We have heard a separate announcement of a consultation on online advertising, but that covers only part of the problem. A call for evidence on online advertising closed a year ago, but as yet nothing at all seems to have come out of that, and asking us to wait for yet further consultation before anything is done would be hopeless. The FSCS, the FCA and, I understand, the Governor of the Bank of England are urging that scams should be included in the online safety Bill, so I hope the Minister can encourage us on that.