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Cybercrime hits two thirds of web users

Norton survey reveals extent of internet threat

ID Fraud

Be on your guard against fraudsters 

Cybercrime including computer viruses, online credit card fraud and identity theft has hit over 59% of adults in the UK or around 30 million people, according to a survey.

The average cost to victims is £103 per person, which adds up a total of around £3 billion to UK consumers, claims report titled The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact.

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As well as the financial impact the report shows that cybercrime has a significant emotional impact on its victims. The strongest reactions are feeling angry (58%), annoyed (51%) and cheated (40 %); in many cases, victims blame themselves for being attacked.

Former cybercrime victim, Michelle, for example told us she felt awful ‘guilt and anxiety’ when she fell victim to a fake ticketing website. Michelle paid for tickets to the Tea in the Park concert using her mother’s credit card but the tickets didn’t arrive and, by the time she realised it was a scam, over £700 had been drawn from her mother’s account.

‘I felt awful,’ says Michelle. ‘No-one can afford to lose that amount of money and it was worse that it was my mother’s money. It was horrendous. When you realise you’ve been had and it’s someone else’s money it was the worst thing.’

When you realise you’ve been had and it’s someone else’s money it was the worst thing

Internet users fear cybercrime

Of the 7,000 people surveyed only 3% don’t think it will happen to them while 80% do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice.

‘We accept cybercrime because of a “learned helplessness”,’ said Joseph LaBrie, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University.

Worryingly, people are doing little to prevent themselves becoming a victim of cybercrime. Only half (51%) of adults saying they would change their behaviour if they became a victim. Even scarier, fewer than half (44%) reported the crime to the police.

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Solving internet crimes is frustrating. It takes an average of 28 days to resolve a cybercrime, and the average cost to resolve that crime is $334 (£217).

Despite the hassle, reporting a cybercrime is critical, says Norton lead cyber security advisor Adam Palmer. ‘We all pay for cybercrime, either directly or through pass-along costs from our financial institutions. If you fail to report a loss, you may actually be helping the criminal stay under the radar.’

Cybercrime victims out in the cold

Sadly, future victims of cybercrime in the UK will struggle to find the emotional support that they need with charity E-victims.org facing closure.

The charity has stopped sending out its email advisory service after running out of cash. Jennifer Perry, the charity’s founder told Which? Computing: ‘I’d sought funding from various government departments, the internet industry and from business. But funding hasn’t been forthcoming.’

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The information on the E-Victims site will remain for a further six to 12 months but the service won’t answer individual queries or send out its scam alert.

The website’s demise is a serious blow for victims. ‘It was the only place where consumers could get direct, hands-on expertise on internet-related crime,’ said Howard Lamb, the Federation Against Copyright Theft’s internet liaison officer. ‘I don’t know where people can go now,’ he added.

Action Fraud service won’t plug the gap

The newly-created Action Fraud (AF) service is unlikely to plug the gap left by the E-Victims service.

Which? Computing reader Peter Bulloch called Action Fraud to report a cold caller pretending to be from Microsoft but the service refused to create a fraud report about the case.

An AF spokesperson clarified the agency’s role. ‘AF was set up to provide a place of support and advice for victims of e-crime. We’re there for victims of e-crime, but we also provide advice on how to stop people becoming victims.

‘If consumers wish to alert the authorities of a fraud or they have escaped being defrauded themselves then they should report the incident to Consumer Direct or Scambusters, part of the Office of Fair Trading.’

Protect yourself from cybercrime

Consumers should ensure that they have up-to-date security software to protect themselves from cybercrime. The release of The Norton Cybercrime Report coincides with the launch of Norton AntiVirus and Norton Internet Security 2011.

Watch out for a full review in the January 2011 issue of Which? Computing. Results will also appear on www.which.co.uk.

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