March of cyber crime hits 1 million more victims

Cyber crime: protect yourself
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

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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.