Fake adverts on social media and search engines are a huge problem. It’s an issue that’s causing a real lack of trust, as many don’t know how to tell if an ad is real or fake.
In a survey by consumer watchdog Which?, nearly 10% of people have fallen for an online scam on one of the major online platforms at some point.
So, are companies doing enough to protect the public against fraudulent sellers?
Are platforms dealing with the problem?
Online platforms make a lot of money off online ads. Because of this, they have a responsibility to their users to ensure fraudulent listings are removed as quickly as possible.
However, many consumers feel they are being let down. Despite most major platforms launching substantial initiatives, most of them rely on user reporting and aren’t effective.
Reporting ads is usually time consuming and involves filling in forms. Plus, user reporting means ads are still visible for some time, leaving many people vulnerable. Consumer groups have criticized these companies, saying the process needs to be faster and easier.
For example, Google users will often see “shopping” results on the page. Fake ads are hard to spot, and even if the user notices, the reporting process is very lengthy. Instead, platforms should be focusing on identifying and removing ads before they are posted.
How can consumers report fraud?
Online fraud is very common. But, in many cases, consumers can get their money back. The process will depend on your country of residence and your chosen payment method, and can take a few weeks.
Most credit card purchases are covered by card protections. Additionally. PayPal payments are protected by the Buyer Protection policy, which can be accessed on your PayPal account.
If you paid by debit card or bank transfer, you should contact your bank, as it may be able to assist you in recovering the money.
It’s also very important to report cases of fraud. All the big platforms have a “report” button, which will direct you to the right page. You can also report it to the relevant authority.