Tech companies could do ‘much more’ to protect users from fraud


Tech companies could do “much more” to protect users from fraud, a senior National Crime Agency (NCA) official told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.

Fraud is the most common crime in England and Wales, according to government statisticswith millions of incidents reported each year and potentially millions more going unreported.

James Babbage, the director general for threats at the NCA, told the new Home Affairs Committee fraud investigation that more than 80% of these crimes took place online.

“We need to focus on what more tech companies can do — and in general, they can do a lot more,” Babbage said. said.

The committee, which examines “the effectiveness of government and law enforcement in identifying and combating existing and emerging forms of fraud,” heard examples of how tech companies could protect their users .

“If you receive an email and it’s from a very recently created domain, that’s a red flag that your email provider could theoretically show you next to the email,” he said. Babbage suggested.

“If you get an email from an email address that’s very similar to the one you correspond with a lot, but slightly different – ​​a ‘1’ for an ‘l’ or something like that – that’s something what technology should do. able to report you.

The investigation is the second on the subject in recent years, with the Justice Committee warning in 2022, that the UK government’s response requires “a radical change in philosophy and practice”.

In the Justice Committee’s report, it welcomed the obligations imposed on technology companies under the Online Safety Act to prevent scams from being perpetrated on their platforms.

TSB, a British retail bank, claimed that the social media giant Meta platforms cause 80% of all fraud cases which he repays. The bank has the highest proportion of all fraudulent refunds in the UK, according to data published by the payments systems regulator.

Babbage welcomed the combination of mandatory online safety law and voluntary law Online fraud charterwhich is expected to be implemented this year, introducing “some sort of ‘know your customer’ verification requirement” for platforms.

“This could significantly reduce the volume of fraud,” he said, while noting that social media companies could also do more to share signals of inauthentic behavior with potential victims and other users of the platform. .

“If you’re on a social media app and the person you’re talking to exhibits various indications of inauthentic behavior, say they appear on the platform as being somewhere other than where their profile says they are, or that she appears to have hundreds of different accounts, or even send messages to an unusually large number of people,” these are details that could be accessible to users.

Solutions to the problem of online fraud involve “finding ways to make more transparent the things that platforms understand that, as consumers, we either don’t understand or are just too complicated to verify.” , said Babbage, who also warned that “generally speaking, on the other hand, social media companies are increasingly placing the content of these groups beyond their own ability to see and understand it. moderate it.

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Alexandre Martin

Alexander Martin is the UK editor of Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology journalist for Sky News and is also a member of the European Cyber ​​Conflict Research Initiative.

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