March of cyber crime hits 1 million more victims

Cyber crime: protect yourself

More than one in ten people in the UK have had to cancel a credit or debit card in the past year, as the result of online fraud. The number of people cancelling cards is up by 1 million - to 5.5 million. It goes to show how important it is to take sensible precautions to protect yourself from cyber crime.

See also: How to stay safe online: What to do if you're a victim

See also: Pension scams hit a record £8 million in a month

See also: Scamwatch: roadside jewellery fraud

Research from also found that the average amount taken from victims of hacking-related fraud was £600 - up from £475 last year. The most common way the money was taken was when victims made an online payment, and the details were intercepted and used to make anther purchase.

This accounted for 46% of all the fraud in the survey, while identity theft accounted for 11% and one in ten had their card duplicated at an ATM.

Protect yourself

The boom in online fraud means that we need to take particular care when we are shopping online. The survey discovered that after people have been the victim of fraud, they tend to take more care. The trick is to take this care before the criminals strike. There are three sensible steps.

1. Some 50% of those who have been hacked check their bank accounts more regularly. This is something we should all have an eye on anyway. If you bank online and use the app, it can make checking transactions and balances incredibly straightforward.

2. 28% also create different PINs and passwords for cards and accounts after becoming a victim of cyber crime. Among those who have never been hacked, one in ten people have the same online password for all of their accounts. This means that hackers only need to get hold of one password - usually on a poorly protected site. Once they have this, they can access everything.

3. It's also worth talking to your bank about the security features you can activate on your account. As these become selling points for banks, they are getting more sophisticated. One newcomer, for example, is ipagoo. It allows you to set its app to automatically accept transactions from some trusted retailers, but ask for authorisation on others. It means that if fraudsters start trying to make unexpected purchases, you can refuse to authorise them - and protect your money.

Barclays, meanwhile, lets customers who use the app turn off the functions that allow their card to be used to make remote purchases - which includes the ability to use the card to make online, in-app, mail order and telephone purchases. If they are concerned about potential fraud they can therefore switch it off until they are certain they are protected.

It's worth taking all the steps you can to protect yourself. It may feel as though nobody would ever bother targeting you with cyber crime, but with 5.5 million victims last year, the chances of being the next target are growing every day.

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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