Cyber Security

The Growth of Fraud Online

Written by Victoria Wilson
Online Fraud Prevention

The statistics about fraud affecting businesses and individuals in the UK have only risen in recent years.

In the 6-month period from October 2017 to March 2018, over 332,000 fraud cases were reported to UK law enforcement.

We're proud to be working alongside Merseyside Police in a campaign to raise awareness about cyber crime and share our joint expertise on staying safe in the digital age. They have shared some eye-opening insights into fraud targeting consumers and businesses which only highlights the need for increased vigilance!

We were curious to know:

  • How does this particularly affect our home base in the North West of England?
  • How does the level and types of fraud in our area compare to the national averages?

In the same 6-month period from October 2017 to March 2018, 4,555 cases of fraud were reported to Merseyside Police, representing losses of £6.9 million to the businesses and individuals who were victimised. 

The top 3 types of fraud in Merseyside by volume were:

1) Cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts

2) Application fraud

3) Online shopping

These were the same 3 most prevalent types of fraud according to the national averages over the same time period! Additionally, in Merseyside, 6 out of 20 victims reported severe or significant impact from the crime.

Online fraud should be a significant concern for businesses and individuals in the North West, so we've pulled together some crucial strategies you can implement to avoid becoming a victim.

1) Review your privacy settings online

Be careful what you share!

Astounding 2018 research by Cifas found that 65% of victims of identity fraud had a visible social media presence or had been victims of a data breach.


Information you post online about your job, including your position, responsibilities and colleagues can help a sophisticated cyber criminal put together an eerily-specific plan to cheat you or your business.

Read more about CEO email fraud and other email scams. 

2) Delete old or unused profiles on websites.

That same Cifas research notes:

"Of particular interest was that personal information had not just been stolen from profiles that were currently used, but also profiles that were no longer in use but had not been deactivated and deleted. Such profiles are often forgotten about, but remain in the public domain, revealing a wealth of personal information.


This especially includes profiles or accounts where you may have auto-saved payment or personal details in the past. Many of us are guilty of using weak passwords on accounts using years-old email addresses which have been compromised in large-scale data dumps. These accounts leave you vulnerable to fraud.

3) Double-check before accepting requests by strangers to 'connect' online. 

91% of sophisticated cyber criminals start with email, and playing on your trust is a key method they use. Be discerning about who you accept as a connection, particularly if it comes without an introduction. Once these strangers are accepted, they can send malicious messages or attachments right to your inbox or direct messages. You are more vulnerable to fraud with thousands of faceless connections!

4) Never share personal details, including account credentials, via email.

Train yourself to spot fraudulent phishing emails, following these guidelines:

  • Ensure that the sender's email domain is valid for the organisation attempting to contact you. Especially for financial institutions, etc.
  • Read the content critically, checking for unusual requests and odd formatting.
  • Don't open any attachments you aren't expecting! And try to contact the sender by an alternative method to confirm the authenticity of the file.

5) Take full advantage of IT security services to protect your business

Advanced Email Security Solutions from our partners like Mimecast are an excellent choice for verifying attachments, identifying fraudulent senders and protecting your network from these advanced phishing scams.

Focus on creating a secure IT infrastructure with superior firewalls, cloud-based 2FA or MFA and endpoint security for every device that connects to your network. All of these services can be seamlessly integrated and supported with 24/7 threat monitoring.

Build a secure perimeter around your most valuable data!

The perpetrators of fraud and cyber crime will continue to innovate, but our goal is to see fewer and fewer individuals and businesses victimised by fraud!

Resources

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