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FCA turns to tech in fight against scams

It allows the regulator to scan 100,000 websites every day

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As scammers become more sophisticated, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has started implementing data technology to combat them.

The watchdog said these types of methods allow the FCA to tackle online fraud faster. This is because it is able to scan around 100,000 websites a day to identify those that appear to feature scam activity on them.

Once the regulator identifies a fraudulent website, it then quickly requests the host to shut it down, and if they don’t comply, the FCA does have the power to force them to, it said.

Between May 2021 and April 2021, the watchdog added 1,966 possible scams to its consumer warning list – a third more than in the same period a year before.

As part of its data strategy, the FCA has set out four action points:

  • It plans to “invest heavily in the use of data” in 2022-23, which will include hiring a significant number of skilled professionals across AI, analytics and data science, cloud engineering and data technology. This is on top of the 100 hires already made in 2020;
  • Analytics and data are also being used to identify inappropriate financial adverts, after 564 ads were either withdrawn or amended in 2021 – more than double the number than in previous years;
  • The regulator has developed a sanctions screening tool, following Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, to help a firm’s controls in identifying organisations or individuals that have been sanctioned; and
  • It will also provide staff with a dashboard of all the financial companies it regulates and the sectors it overseas to make it easier to spot and focus on the highest risk cases.

Jessica Rusu, chief data, information and intelligence officer at the FCA, said: “Better use of data means we can be more proactive and find and stop harm faster. We are continuing to improve our data, technology and capabilities to act decisively in consumers interests, while making it easier for firms to report to us.”

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