Get involved with the ASA's system to help tackle scam ads

Posted on Thursday 20 May 2021 | IAB UK

In order to help tackle online scam ads, we’re encouraging IAB UK members to get involved with the ASA’s Scam Ad Alert system

The Advertising Standards Authority's (ASA) Scam Ad Alert system was created last year in partnership with the major digital advertising companies, publishers and social media platforms to help tackle financial scam ads and give the industry a means of reporting and removing them. 

People can use the system to report scam ads to the ASA, who will then send an alert to all participating companies with key details of the scam ad, as well as sharing information with the National Cyber Security Centre. If they locate them on their systems, partners will remove the offending ad and suspend the advertiser's account. The details can also be used to populate blocklists to stop ads from the same advertisers appearing in future.

In the first six months of the system being live, 1,274 reports were made by the public, resulting in 121 alerts being sent. While the ASA is clear that this system isn’t a cure-all for scam ads online, it is designed to minimise the harm from known scams, and complement and enhance the work already being done by digital advertising companies, social media platforms and other regulatory bodies to tackle financial scams. This industry-led system is part of a multi-pronged approach that, to be effective, must also include law enforcement to crack down on the criminal activity behind the ads. 

At IAB UK, we have supported the ASA in setting up the Scam Ad Alert system and are now recommending to our members that aren’t already part of the initiative to get involved, in order to help protect consumers, and to prevent their own services from being exploited for fraudulent purposes. To find out more and become part of the initiative, email [email protected]

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also publishes a list of known unauthorised firms or individuals offering financial services in the UK who are required to be registered with and authorised by the FCA, but are not, which you can check here.  

We will be continuing to work with our members and the wider industry to explore other potential ways to address the problem of scam ads, alongside law enforcement efforts. 

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