Fraud and cybercrime could have cost the UK nearly £11 billion in the past year

Get Safe Online urges people to make every day safer by treating online security as part of our everyday routines


Get Safe Online Day LogoThe UK public and small businesses are today (18th October 2016) being urged to start making every day safer as the latest online crime figures from Get Safe Online and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), based only on data available from fraud and cyber crime incidents reported to Action Fraud, staggeringly reveal that up to potentially £10.9 billion was lost to the UK economy as a result of fraud, including cybercrime, in 2015/16. That equates to approximately £210 per person over the age of 16 living in the UK.

However, a specially commissioned survey to mark Get Safe Online Day, reveals that this number is likely to be much greater, with respondents who had been a victim of online crime alone losing an average of £523 each – this being more than the average weekly earnings figure for the UK which currently stands at £505. In addition, 39% of people who said they’d been victims of online crime said they hadn’t reported the incident, with the Crime Survey for England and Wales suggesting this may be as low as one-fifth of victims– this meaning that the overall amount of money lost by the UK could in fact be even more.

In addition, a quarter of (25%) respondents said that they had a limited understanding of the risks they face when going online, but nine in 10 (89%) said they were somewhat or very concerned about their online safety and security. 89% also felt online crime was as damaging or more damaging than physical crime.

The victims of cyber criminals

The research found a worrying gap in people’s understanding of what constitutes an online crime – 86% said they had not been targeted by cyber criminals in the past 12 months. But, 68% of respondents have been targeted in a variety of ways:
  • 53% received fraudulent emails or messages which have attempted to direct them to websites where their personal information could have been stolen, including bank details, user names and passwords
  • Over a quarter (28%) reported being contacted by someone who was trying to trick them into giving away personal information
  • 10% had their email or social media accounts hacked
  • 3% had been victims of ransomware, a fast-growing means of online extortion

Of those who said they had been a victim of cybercrime, over a third (38%) said they felt that the matter was too trivial to report. Worryingly, over a third of people (37%) also said that they felt there was nothing that could be done.

Poor online safety habits

But, many respondents are still not taking the basic steps to keep themselves safe online with as many as 43% saying that they use the same password for multiple online accounts. In fact, even when a company warns people to change their password after a breach – three in 10 have been contacted to do so – 12% said they did not follow the advice. The survey found that people use an average 9 passwords across devices and accounts.

The research also showed that respondents only update their security software every 8½ months and two in 10 (19%) do not update their device operating systems at all. When it comes to taking care of personal information, nearly a quarter (23%) said they never update their privacy settings on social media, with 58% saying they did not know how to. Additionally, nearly a third (29%) don’t back up their documents and photographs at all.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, comments: “The fact that the UK is losing nearly £11 billion to cyber criminals is frightening and highlights the need for each and every one of us to make sure we are taking our online safety seriously. It is clear from our survey that people are very concerned, and rightly so.”

“The fact that over a third of people felt there was nothing that could have been done to stop them becoming a victim is alarming indeed – particularly when it’s so easy to protect yourself online. Also, as our research shows, people are losing large sums of money on average - £523 being the equivalent of a holiday abroad or the price of a new piece of technology in the home. As a result, it seems there is still a big education job to do. Let’s not let cyber criminals get away with it anymore by ensuring that each and every one of us is updating the operating systems of our various devices and ensuring security software is always updated. What’s more we all need to ensure that we have a different password for each online account we own and website we visit. Online safety needs to be part of our everyday routines.”


City of London Police’s Commander Chris Greany, the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, continued:

“The huge financial loss to cybercrime hides the often harrowing human stories that destroy lives and blights every community in the UK. All of us need to ask ourselves are we doing everything we can to protect ourselves from online criminals. Unfortunately, people still click on links in unsolicited emails and fail to update their security software. Just as you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked, so you shouldn’t leave yourself unprotected online.”

Making online safety part your everyday routine

This year’s Get Safe Online Day is encouraging everyone to start making every day safer by following a few simple steps:

  • Review the passwords you use on your online accounts: Make sure they’re strong enough, following government advice of using three random words, and that you’re not using the same ones for more than one account. Consider how you’re going to remember them all – such as using an online password safe.
  • Check your social media privacy settings. Make sure your information and updates are seen only by those you trust.
  • Update your operating system and software programs/apps on your computer, mobile phone and tablet if you’ve been prompted to do so. It takes only a few minutes and with your mobile devices, you can even do it while you’re asleep.
  • Back up your information – using the cloud is a great way to save all your documents, photos, music, emails and other irreplaceable files.
  • Check that your internet security software and apps are up to date and switched on.
  • If you have children, think about whether you’re doing enough to help ensure they’re staying safe online.
  • If you’ve lost money report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 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.

Get Safe Online Day Image

For more information visit Get Safe Online

Written by E-safety Support on October 18, 2016 11:27

Cybercrime is Getting Personal

One in five victims of cybercrime think they were specifically targeted by fraudsters


The UK public has been left feeling vulnerable following an increase in highly personalised cybercrimes according to Get Safe Online, the joint public private internet safety initiative. In a specially commissioned survey for Get Safe Online Week (19th-25th October), over one in five (21%) victims of a cybercrime believe they were specifically targeted by fraudsters and over a third (37%) were left feeling vulnerable as a result. Only 38% of the victims believed that the incident was down to bad luck and over half (57%) think it’s becoming much easier to fall victim to an online crime.

It’s always personal

The Get Safe Online survey went on to show that over a quarter of victims (26%) had been scammed by phishing emails or ‘vishing’ phone calls. These are a much more targeted type of scam where the fraudster uses data about the victim pieced together from various sources such as social media and intercepted correspondence to sound convincing, and manipulates them into sharing confidential information linked to online accounts.

Other areas where victims were targeted include:

  • Fake tax rebate emails (13%)
  • Phone/tablet/laptop hacking (9%)
  • Identity theft (5%)
  • Cyber bullying or harassment (4%)
  • Personal images stolen via webcam hacking (1%).
  • The financial cost of a crime

    41% of people who have been a victim of a cybercrime lost money with the average person losing £738. Men, however, are likely to lose significantly more, with the average loss being £839 compared to £617 for women. Shockingly, 8% stated they had lost in excess of £5,000.

    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 £268 million lost nationwide to the top ten internet-enabled frauds reported between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015. The £268 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. According to the survey, almost one in five (19%) don’t bother reporting a cybercrime.

    Rising awareness of cyber crime

    The survey also indicates that the public are more aware of the risk of cybercrime; 30% of those surveyed think they know more about online safety now compared to a year ago and a further 21% say they know more than they did two years ago.

    High profile data breaches in the news have made people more cautious about their behaviour online, with the majority (64%) of the public being more cautious about sharing their personal data with companies. However, women are much more cautious (69%) compared to just 60% of men. 23% claimed it was specifically the Carphone Warehouse breach, 22% said they were most worried following the rise in scams in the wake of the pension reforms earlier in the year, 18% cited the Apple iTunes email scam and 17% stated the Talk Talk, Sony and Ashley Madison data hacks respectively.

    What aren’t we doing to keep ourselves safe?

    Despite concerns about cybercrimes being front of mind, the survey indicates that people are still struggling with basic safety precautions. Almost two thirds (65%) claim they could do more to stay safe online. Almost a quarter (22%) aren’t conscious about using strong passwords, 13% still have public social media accounts and one in 10 don’t bother using security software on their connected devices.

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

    “As we spend more of our lives online, our digital footprints inevitably get bigger. Sadly, that means opportunist fraudsters will use information about us to make their scams more believable and difficult to detect. Being online offers so many great opportunities for everyone and we would never discourage anyone from enjoying and benefiting from them. However, we do urge people to take precautions so they don’t make themselves vulnerable to underhanded scammers.

    There are simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves online, including putting a password on any of your connected devices such as your phone or tablet, using the highest security settings on your social media accounts and never disclosing your confidential details when you are contacted by an email or on the phone – a legitimate organisation would never ask you to do this.

    The results of our survey show that cybercrime is getting much more personal so this Get Safe Online week we’re calling for people to be aware of this and take the small steps to keep themselves safe. Don’t let the criminals win!”

    Acting Superintendent, Matt Bradford, Head of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police said:

    “Fraudsters are cashing-in online and are using the internet to commit crimes which they would never have been able to execute in previous decades.

    “As this type of offending continues to increase and the internet becomes a playground for criminals, it is important that members of the public do everything they can to stop themselves becoming a victim of fraud and cybercrime.

    “We urge everyone to think about their online behaviour and ensure that they do everything they can to protect themselves. Simple measures such as limiting the amount of personal information shared on social media platforms and the use of anti-virus software can help to prevent online crime.

    The internet is an excellent place to shop, work and play, don’t let cyber criminals stop you from enjoying spending time online”.

    Who you need to speak to

  • If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (i.e. where you have lost money) you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 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.
  • Written by E-safety Support on October 19, 2015 08:57


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