UK consumers lose £286 million to cyber-fraudsters in the past year


UK consumers lose £286 million to cyber-fraudsters in the past year

People in the UK are losing a huge amount of money to online fraudsters each year, new research by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau suggests.

In support of Get Safe Online Week 2015, the study finds that more than £286 million was stolen by web swindlers in the past year. This figure comes from reports of fraud where they were first contacted by a fraudster via an online medium.

Although still a staggering amount, many internet fraud cases go unreported, so it’s likely that the actual economic loss is much higher.

Taking a hit to the wallet

Action Fraud carried out its own survey for the tenth annual Get Safe Online Week, and discovered that the average cybercrime victim lost £738.

According to the study, men are likely to lose much more money than women, with male cyber victims being drained of an average of £839, compared with just £617 for women. Startlingly, nearly one in ten said they had lost over £5,000 to online fraudsters.

Being directly targeted

Worryingly, just over one in five (21%) of victims said they believed they were specifically targeted in a cyber-fraud attack – where just 38% feel it was down to sheer bad luck.

More than a quarter of cyber-fraud victims had fallen foul of specifically targeted assaults like phishing emails or ‘vishing’ phone calls. In these types of attacks, the fraudster uses data about the victim that they source from places like public social media accounts and intercepted correspondence. This convinces people to part with sensitive, confidential data as it’s backed by bits and pieces of your personal information to seem more convincing. These kinds of attacks left more than a third of victims feeling vulnerable.

Where 13% of victims said they were caught out by fake tax rebate emails, nearly one in ten respondents said they had been the victim of a hack of their phone, tablet or laptop.

Wising up to the fraudsters

While many are still caught out by online fraudsters, it seems awareness is rising on the whole. Nearly a third (30%) of those who responded said they know more about cybercrime compared to last year, where a further 21% have improved their knowledge in the past two years.

High profile data breaches appear to be one of the driving factors behind many of us being more cautious with our online details. Almost two thirds (64%) of victims say they are more careful when considering sharing their personal data with a company. Data breaches like the Carphone Warehouse breach (23%), an Apple iTunes email scam (18%) and the Sony and Ashley Madison data hacks (17%) have been a cause for concern for many.

Get smart online

Although many of us are wising up to the shady work carried out by online conmen, it appears we’re still failing to follow basic internet safety precautions. A huge 65% of victims admit they could do more to keep their personal details safe online, and a further 22% haven’t taken the time to create stronger passwords.

Other important security features, like using security software on all your devices and making social media accounts private are shunned by some (9% and 13% respectively).

The results here are quite worrying, as protecting your personal details online is vital. As fraudsters come up with more and more elaborate ways to con you out of your money, it’s time to step up your security procedures and stamp out the chances you’ll be targeted. Here’s a few tips to get you on your way:

- Always use strong passwords. Use a combination of letters and numbers, and make sure it’s something not related to you in any way – so pet names and partner’s names are out!

- Install antivirus on your electronic devices. This is a must, as running a quick check can alert you to any potential unseen infections.

- Be wary of any emails or phone calls asking you to transfer money or provide bank details. Most reputable companies will never request this information of you in this format. If you get this kind of request, call the company head office or speak with the person that contacted you directly.