Press release

Top 10 online-enabled frauds hitting British wallets to the tune of £670 million, with high emotional cost

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

51% of Britons have experienced an online crime: 'Don’t be a victim’ is theme for Get Safe Online Week 2014.

Get Safe Online week: don't be a victim www.getsafeonline.org
  • 51% of Britons have experienced an online crime
  • half of victims of online crime ‘very or extremely violated’ by their experience
  • 54% of Britons now want to unmask the cyber crooks behind online crimes
  • ‘Don’t be a victim’ is the theme for Get Safe Online Week 2014

Get Safe Online, the public private joint internet safety initiative, today revealed both the financial and the emotional cost of cybercrime. In a specially commissioned poll of 2,000 people by Vision Critical for Get Safe Online Week (20 to 26 October), half (50%) of those who said they were a victim of cybercrime (including online fraud or cases resulting in economic loss; ID theft; hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses; and online abuse) said they felt either ‘very’ or ‘extremely violated’ by their ordeal.

Separate figures, prepared by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) for Get Safe Online Week, give an indication to the sheer scale of online crime, with over £670 million lost nationwide to the top 10 internet-enabled frauds reported between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014. The £670 million number comes from reports of fraud, calculated when the first contact to victims was via an online function.

However, as a significant number of internet-enabled fraud cases still go unreported the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.

Visit Get Safe Online and find out more about Get Safe Online Week.

The Get Safe Online survey also revealed that over half (53%) of the population now sees online crimes as seriously as ‘physical world’ crimes, destroying the notion that online crime is ‘faceless’ and less important than other crimes. As a result, more cybercrime victims (54%) wish to unmask a perpetrator but only 14% succeeded.

Over half (51%) of those surveyed for Get Safe Online have been a victim of online crime (Including online fraud or cases resulting in economic loss; identity theft; hacking or deliberate distribution of viruses; and online abuse) although only 32% of these reported the crime. Around half (47%) of victims did not know who to report an online crime to, although this figure is expected to drop through the on-going work of Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre, and the considerable government resources now dedicated to fighting cybercrime.

On a positive note, the victims in the Get Safe Online poll said that their experiences have shocked them into changing their behaviour for the better, with nearly half (45%) opting for stronger passwords and 42% being extra vigilant when shopping online. Over a third (37%) always log out of accounts when they go offline and nearly a fifth (18%) have changed their security settings on their social media accounts.

But, in stark contrast, most people still don’t have the most basic protection. More than half (54%) of mobile phone users and around a third (37%) of laptop owners do not have a password or PIN number for their device. That figure rises to over half (59%) for PC users and two thirds (67%) of tablet owners.

Get safe online: don't be a victim statistics infographic

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Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office, comments:

The UK cyber market is worth over £80 billion a year and rising. The internet is undoubtedly a force for good but we cannot stand still in the face of these threats, which already cost our economy billions every year.

As part of this government’s long-term economic plan, we want to make the UK one of the most secure places to do business in cyberspace. We have a £860 million Cyber Security Programme which supports law enforcement’s response to cybercrime and we are working with the private sector to help all businesses protect vital information assets.

Our Get Safe Online and Cyber Streetwise campaigns provide easy to understand information for the public on how and why they should protect themselves. Cyber security is not an issue for government alone – we must all take action to defend ourselves against threats.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, comments:

Our research shows just how serious a toll cybercrime can take – both on the wallet and on well-being, and this has been no more apparent than in the last few weeks with various large-scale personal photo hacks of celebrities and the general public. Unfortunately, this is becoming more common now that we live more of our lives online.

Get Safe Online Week this year is all about ‘Don’t be a victim’ and we can all take simple steps to protect ourselves, including putting a password on your computer or mobile device, never clicking on a link sent by a stranger, using strong passwords and always logging off from an account or website when you’re finished. The more the public do this, and together with better conviction rates, the more criminals won’t be able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity.

Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, Head of the City of London Police’s NFIB, said:

Cheap and easy access to the internet is changing the world and transforming our lives. What many of us may be less aware of is that financial crime has moved online and poses a major threat to people of all ages and from all walks of life living in the UK today. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor – it matters little who you are, where you live or what you do.

It is vitally important people are fully aware of the dangers of fraud and internet-enabled fraud which is why the City of London Police, in its role as the National Policing Lead for Fraud and home to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, is fully supportive of Get Safe Online’s week of action.

I would also call on anyone who has fallen victim to an online fraud to report to Action Fraud. Only by doing this will local police forces be able to track down the main offenders and ensure victims receive the best possible support as they try to recover from what can be an extremely difficult and upsetting experience.

Who you need to speak to

  • if you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (ie where you have lost money) you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 2040 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
  • if you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force
  • for general advice on how to stay safe online go to www.GetSafeOnline.org.
Published 21 October 2014