Savers in the UK tend to turn to the web as their first source of information before making a decision with their finances.
This means that the misleading marketing of high-risk investments disguised as cash savings accounts could put people’s life savings at risk.
Which found that 66% of respondents, who have opened an Isa or savings account, have done some research online before making a decision.
“Across the UK, this equates to more than a million prospective people who could be heavily influenced by online ads or internet search results promoting these products,” the consumer group said.
Several high-risk products were among the first results in online searches, as many were paid ads on Google.
During its research, Which found that the majority of its respondents showed interest in an advertisement for products promising 9% “asset-backed fixed returns”.
But such ads did not clarify they were marketing an investment product and not an Isa, as people believed, and that capital would be at risk.
This trend is also a result of the very low interest rates on cash savings accounts, which averaged at 1.64% in September 2019.
A similar issue is at the core of the London Capital & Finance (LCF) case, where bondholders lost their life savings because they did not fully understand the consequences of making high-risk investments.
Over 11,000 investors collectively lost £236m ($290.7m, €265m) by investing in mini-bonds.
Which’s research surveyed 2,010 people in July 2019.