It is a sobering thought that approximately 10% of the population have now experienced cybercrime or fraud in one way or another and what is more, you are 20 times more likely to be robbed by an overseas criminal as you sit using your computer or handheld device, than if you were walking down the street. In 2015 for example, six million people fell victim to online fraud or cybercriminal activity.
Victims of cybercrime come from all walks of life and from different backgrounds and ages – online fraud is a great leveller! Unfortunately, many victims are unaware that they have been victims of fraud until it is too late and their hard-earned savings have been stolen.
Mark Castle, Chief Executive of charity Victim Support, commented that: “…As well as possible financial losses, fraud can leave people feeling violated, lacking in confidence and ashamed.”
Many cybercriminals are based abroad, but can obtain access to people’s bank accounts remotely by conning them into revealing personal details and passwords.
What is cybercrime?
It actually covers a wide range of offences including card fraud, being ripped off whilst shopping online, identity theft, phishing, and online harassment…
This is when criminals trick people into handing over their card details or provide access to protected systems. Fraudsters do this by sending emails with links or attachments to sites (such as the website of a customer’s bank for example), or they install malware onto people’s computers.
This is when criminals use online forums to buy and sell email addresses, card details and passports etc.
Online harassment is also on the increase with young people and teens often becoming victims – over half of young people have been bullied online and three quarters of adults know someone who has been harassed, or have experienced harassment themselves.
Commander Chris Greany, of the City of London Police has said, “Fraud and cyber-crime is something which is perpetrated from all corners of the globe. Unlike with traditional crime, criminals can target their victims from miles away and clear their bank accounts without ever coming into contact with them.
“Given the nature of this threat, victims must do everything they can to protect themselves; always being wary about who they are interacting with online and taking time to think before making any online transactions.”
What can people do to lessen their chances of experiencing cybercrime?
Avoid using public networks.
You should avoid connecting to free Wi-Fi in public places such as coffee shops or pubs, because potential hackers can easily get through the low-level security used by these networks in public places.
Avoid using public computers for personal transactions.
You should also avoid personal transactions such as online banking or shopping on public computers, because people who have used the computers before you may have put programs into the computer that can save your passwords when you enter them.
Do not give out your passwords.
You should keep your passwords to yourself. If you have to give your password to someone, change it afterwards to prevent them from accessing your information without your permission.
Try to avoid downloading unknown applications.
Software from unknown sources may be malicious and by installing it, it may infect and damage your computer or handheld device.
If you do find that you are the victim of fraud, you should first report it to Action Fraud, which is the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. They will pass the report to the National Fraud Bureau (NFBI) which will analyse the case and if appropriate will pass it on to the police.