The government has warned that millions of people are vastly underestimating the threat of being hit by computer hackers. Crime figures suggest individuals are 11 times more likely to fall prey to online scams than a robbery.
But on the whole, Britons still fail to take basic steps to protect themselves, according to a new report introduced by Ben Wallace, the Minister for Security and Economic Crime.
He said: ‘There is a widespread belief that cyber criminals focus only on big businesses and celebrities rather than ‘ordinary’ people; a misconception that there are few consequences of being a victim of cyber crime and an array of inconsistent advice that leads to dangerous inertia.’
Find out how you can make sure you stay safe online, and don’t forget, our members can contact Which? Tech Support for friendly one-to-one tech and computing advice.
Tips for spotting online scams
The report stressed that fraud victims do not always get their money back, with only 4,000 of the 232,000 people fully reimbursed after losing money because of computer viruses in the year to September 2017.
Crime Survey data also showed that out of 1.6 million victims of bank account and credit card fraud, roughly one in eight were not fully compensated.
Scammers commonly use email scams as a way to steal your money and information, and to trick you into downloading malicious software onto your computer.
If you’re concerned about safety when using the internet, here are some top tips to identify and avoid fake, fraudulent or scam websites and how to spot an email scam.
More must be done to safeguard public
The government recommends having a separate, strong password for each email account and advises installing software and app updates to strengthen your security online.
Knowing how to spot scams online should provide some protection, but Which? believes more needs to be done to safeguard the public against these kinds of threats.
Which? managing director of home products and services Alex Neill said: ‘With cyber crime on the rise, even the savviest people can be scammed. While there are important steps people can take, far too much responsibility is being placed on consumers to identify and protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated fraudsters.
‘The government’s Joint Fraud Taskforce must do more to set out what critical agencies and businesses can do to prevent fraud and protect consumers.’
Report cyber crime
Although there were an estimated 1.5 million computer misuse crimes in the year to September 2017, only 21,745 were referred to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in that period.
If you spot a scam online, it isn’t always clear who you should contact about it. If you’re unsure of the steps to take, read our guide on how to report a scam – it covers what you need to do when reporting email scams, as well as phone scams and scam mail.