Cybercrime losses up 24% in just six months
According to the police, £34.6 million was reported stolen from UK victims of cybercrime between April and September 2018. That's a whopping 24% increase on the previous six months.
What do the latest statistics reveal?
- More than £190,000 a day is lost in the UK by victims of cybercrime
- Over a third of the victims affected had either their social media or email accounts hacked
- People hacked via their social media and email accounts lost a total of £14.8 million
- 13,357 people in the UK reported cybercrimes over six months.
According to a police spokesperson, cybercriminals were targeting people's social media accounts "in a bid to make money and steal personal details". This could leave victims "at risk of identity theft".
The City of London Police, which runs Action Fraud, has warned people to:
- Keep separate passwords for each of their online accounts
- Make sure that they use the latest software and app updates
- Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal or financial information (phishing)
- Never call numbers or follow links provided in unsolicited texts or emails.
What is Action Fraud?
Action Fraud is the UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Victims of online offences such as scams and financial/identity fraud should contact Action Fraud to report their loss. You can do this online or via telephone.For any other form of cybercrime such as online stalking, harassment, or fears about sexual grooming, you should contact the police directly.
What else is Action Fraud saying?
In addition to the sixth-monthly figures, reports on Action Fraud's website also warn us that:
- A staggering £50,766,602 was lost to romance fraud in 2018 with an average of £11,145 per victim and a 27% increase on the previous year. Action Fraud is warning people to be aware of romance scams in the run-up to Valentine's Day
- Fraudsters are targeting the growing over 55 population because they are more likely to have money to invest. Traditionally scammers cold-call but contact can also come from online sources (e.g. email or social media)
- Fraudsters are sending the public fake TV licensing emails to steal their personal and financial information.
What can happen if you are scammed?
Cybercrime can result in both financial and/or identity theft. And, with enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.
We all worry about what could happen if scammers get access to our bank accounts. But the impact of data breaches goes much further than financial losses.
According to Victim Support, the effects of crime can last for a long time. We've seen cases where experiencing a data breach has resulted in adverse life events such as having to move house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury.
How to protect yourself from cybercriminals
In addition to the advice provided by Action Fraud, here are a few additional steps to help protect your personal information:
- If you are worried that your financial details have been exposed, contact your bank/credit card provider immediately and ask them to keep a close eye on your account and request a new card
- Report any suspected phishing attempts to the police and relevant authorities (Action Fraud)
- Look out for any bills or emails showing goods or services you haven't ordered, or any unfamiliar transactions on your account and alert your bank or card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity
- Keep an eye on your credit score for any unexpected dips (register for updates)
- Let the credit reference agencies know of any activity that was not down to you
- Register with the Cifas protective registration service. This will slow down credit applications made in your name with additional verification checks made to ascertain that the applicant is actually you
- Register with a suitable fraud prevention service
- Regularly change your passwords on all your accounts (you might want to use a password security tool to help you to do this).
Leading by example
At Hayes Connor, we want to stop cybercriminals in their tracks. To do this, we are helping to raise awareness of this issue and educating people to prevent similar crimes from happening.
For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Alternatively, if you have been the victim of cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.
 England, Wales and Northern Ireland