/ Scams

Do you trust online adverts?

Algorithms deliver ads to apparently best serve your shopping needs, but how much do you trust an online advert? Are they a help or hindrance?

The ease and accessibility of using the internet is both a curse and a blessing in my view. 

It’s so easy for me to pick up my phone and ‘Google’ whatever it is that I need – a new bed for the dog; the number for the vet; the pet insurance claims portal…

I pretty much Google everything. It’s a time thing for me, it’s fast and easy but I also know that this comes with a risk – albeit a managed one. While I may think it’s there to serve my best interests, the internet is a money-making machine and, sadly, it’s also a scammer’s paradise.

Targeted ads

After Googling whatever shopping dilemma I’m in, I know there will be an inevitable deluge of targeted ads on my social media. 

So when I think about whether I trust these ads, my gut instinct is a straight ‘no’ – I don’t feel comfortable that I’m getting a ‘good’ deal, and I also know how scarily easy it is to be snared by a dodgy search listing or a rogue trader on social media.

In a survey over over 2,000 people who use social media, we found that one in ten had been taken in by a dodgy advert that appeared in their social media or search engine results.

We get so many people contacting us about these types of scams – be it a copycat website offering DVLA services, a scam investment firm ranking in search ads and conning people out of tens of thousands of pounds, or a scam retailer marketing ‘Clarks’ shoes and instead posting knock-off sunnies.

Our research into the reporting of these scams adverts found that the processes are so onerous, inaccessible and ultimately with disappointing outcomes that two in five victims do not report them to host platforms.

Aviva fraud report

Last week, the insurance giant Aviva released its fraud report. Its conclusion was that consumer trust in online adverts is pretty low. Of the people it surveyed:

⚠ 53% don’t trust adverts placed by genuine financial services companies

⚠ 65% don’t believe search engines verify the financial product, service or provider

⚠ 87% think the government should make search engines and social media sites work to stop ads misleading consumers or promoting financial scams

Online platforms play such a pivotal role in our day-to-day lives, but these platforms don’t seem to be earning our trust.

Google recently announced plans to crack down on rogue financial services advertisers with stricter requirements for firms promoting financial services. The change will come into effect from 6 September.

These checks could wipe out many scams which rely on paid-for adverts to find victims. However, stricter policies mean very little without enforcement.

So I’d like to hear from you – where do you stand on online ads? Are these harmless helpers in resolving your shopping dilemmas, or, like me, do you think these ads are far too often a scammer’s trap?


The latest attempt to scam me comes via the Facebook messaging ads when I have tried to sell an item ,which is usually large. I have three times been contacted by someone with a foreign name , french ? Offering to send money via parcel force , who will pick up the item & take it away with them ,unseen by the buyer. I am not sure how the scam works but a scam it obviously is , can anyone enlighten me ? P.s. I haven’t found out yet how to report it to Facebook.

I replied to an online ad for Amazon clearance pallets, ordered 2 paid almost £100 with delivery, and all I got were 2 plastic non working speakers,. Have emailed many many times but finally today received 70% refund. They have come out on top with 30% of my money.
Chinese companies advertise Amazon pallets but they don’t sell these items, just scam money from the public.

I don’t trust any unsolicited advertisements!

I have never used social media and do not intend to ever start….. so I miss out on this form of advertising entertainment. I always scroll past the first half dozen or so Google query responses and look for the unpaid for ones.

Anthony says:
10 September 2021

I ignore adverts, I simply don’t trust any of them.

I agree. I’m constantly warning my wife about these fake comps etc. it’s an advert like born between such and such can get free money for whatever. You click the feed or ads and end up on a site for life insurance…. Told my wife, before parting with any bank details ,check with our oldest son,or me

I don’t trust any adverts whatsoever, whether online or not. Even programmes I might want to watch on commercial tv channels I either immediately mute the sound when they come on or I record the programme and fast forward through the adverts. It’s very satisfying!!

Has any one heard about a scam involving Solar Panels. My husband had a call this morning from someone wanting to look at our panels. I am against anyone getting near our panels. My Husband said we will think about it, which of cause we are not. Just interested.

The only person I trust is me! I do my own research and then buy from known and trusted companies preferably local if possible . I don’t use Social Media or respond to random adverts.

Don Savage says:
10 September 2021

Any adverts on social media I avoid like the plague with their only a few left or 20% off if you order today, if there’s something that interested you write down the title and then check on Amazon as I’ve found items for sell exactly the same with reviews (I know some are fakes but you get an idea).
With Amazon your not giving the sellers your bank details and you get some protection if no goods arrive.

I do not trust anything I have not directly asked for – Any cold caller is shut down immediately and one wrinkly I have found is that these automatic calls (you get to recognise the numbers) don’t run if you stay quiet, just don’t say anything and the call terminates quite quickly

Peter Moller says:
10 September 2021

Received an email last night from , and I quote , Ya! ho! Finance advising me that I had just won USD 500,000 all I needed to do was send them etc.,etc.,…..

I would never (or hardly ever) buy a product advertised on FaceBook. Some of their tech ads are fun to watch but when you look at what is being offered and at what price, they turn out to be incredibly over priced. Compared with identical products listed on eBay or Amazon they are typically at least 30% more expensive. I guess they need to pay for the high production values in their videos somehow!

Bob Moss says:
10 September 2021

I have tried to buy a tool that saves your photos.
Luckily my on line security stopped me, saying this advertisement is not safe

Rosie Thompson says:
10 September 2021

I ignore ads completely. I find them intrusive and VERY annoying. If I want or need something I will research it myself

Leslie Nicholls says:
10 September 2021

If I see, shipping cost-free or even just the word, shipping, I know it’s probably coming from China so, having had some bad experiences with goods from China, I don’t buy anymore, yes it looks the same but the quality is inferior.

I am of the opinion that 99% of the ads and all the spam mail is fraud.
But formerly working at BT plc, the holes in the network these banks use, give crocks access.
I do wonder if these scams are not rigged by the Banks to fleece one, and then you have to prove you are not at fault.
As more and more banks and other financial branches close, in my area this month 3 LLOYDS are shutting. Stony Stratford, Towcester (Silverstone is nearby) and one near to Bedford.
And Lloyds send you a letter saying use the Post Office!! Or travel 3 miles to Central Milton Keynes and be robbed to park your car!!
And we thought CV19 was bad enough??

I ignore all on-line ads and since I have an ad-blocker I don’t see many anyway. I will NEVER buy anything on line unless it is from a trusted source (e.g.Amazon) and I have instigated the search. Furthermore, I absolutely detest TV ads and never watch them, even the amusing ones (e.g. meerkats) grind after a few viewings so I either switch channels or at the very least mute them. I often record programmes so I can fast forward through the ads. I will never buy anything I see advertised in this way and I usually fully research and item (via Which? etc) before I buy.

Rupert Cox says:
10 September 2021

I just don’t read the online adverts as am naturally suspicious and prefer to do my own research from various sources before buying. I also ignore all ‘sponsored’ products on Amazon and look carefully to see if order is fulfilled from China ( or as another has said) or includes ‘shipping’

Christine Abdelmoutaleb says:
10 September 2021

I use an ad-blocker

Plain and simple………… NO !