ODA response to Action Fraud and City of London Police Urban Fraud Myths Material on Dating ScamsWe understand Action Fraud and the City of London Police concern over romance type scams and how these are attempted on dating and social networking sites. We welcome the work they and individual police forces do to prosecute fraudsters but were disappointed at the way this campaign was launched.
With about ten million Britain’s registered on dating sites and with dating accounting for about a third of all new relationships we want users of dating services to have a safe as well as great experience.
Every ODA member is committed to a Code of Practice that includes a responsibility to examine the profiles of those joining services in order to disrupt possible scammers. Members use skilled staff and dedicated software tools to do this work. They have built up years of expertise in this area. Members have reporting tools if a user does encounter problems and all members and the ODA centrally provide practical advice and guidance on how to stay safe online and when on a date. Many members operate their own chat rooms and communications platforms in order to offer users a safer monitored environment in which to get to know others online. The fact that Scamalytics, a business dedicated to preventing online scamming, was the first ODA Associate business is further evidence of this focus.
Members have legal guidance on how to flag a scammer to a user if the problem arises and the ODA is busy setting up an information-sharing arrangement that will allow every ODA member to alert others if a problem user is identified as posing a serious risk to people. At industry level the ODA has hosted workshops on scam prevention (including a session at Action Fraud) and personal data security and hopes to have a session on options in identity checking before the end of 2015.
We are serious about these issues, but, sadly, this was not evident in the Urban Fraud Myth-busting material - #UrbanFraudMyths. For effect the material gave the impression message that sites do nothing to “vet” and protect users and that possible scammers can act unchallenged. This is not true. It is a message that unfairly could damage the trust users have in services.
While we are disappointed that that dramatic language and previously unreported statistics does nothing to recognise the industry’s achievements in deterring scammers we totally share the cautionary messages sent by Action Fraud. Sadly, there are some people online right across the web that are there simply trying to deceive money out of others.
Alongside industry efforts to prevent and disrupt this it is right that we keep reminding users to act smart and stay safe online; always to think with your head as well as your heart, never ever to respond to a request for money however long contact with someone has gone on, always to ask a friend or relative for advice if in doubt, always to feel free to stop a contact if it does not feel right, and never to feel silly reporting dodgy behaviours. These are messages the ODA and every member company give out. They are messages we share with Action Fraud.
We are talking with the National Fraud Investigation Bureau about more information-sharing to deter scamming. We are serious about protecting users. We have a unique understanding of the issues and a unique ability to disrupt wrongdoing. We hope this will be recognised as we are definately stronger together.
ODA’s Date Great: Date Safe guidance can be found here.