Cybercrime is increasingly common – but we tend to hear about multi-million dollar heists that affect big business and governments. However, normal people are also being targeted by cybercriminals every single day.
Recent shows like The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna have shown just how common online scams are – and how effective they can be. It’s no surprise that UK police recorded just under 135,000 cyber crimes last year.
Everyone knows someone
A recent survey found that two-thirds of British adults have been targeted by criminals. 20% of people have been approached by scammers running a romance fraud (like The Tinder Swindler) and 25% have been asked for cash by someone they met online. Incredibly, 44% of those approached admit to having paid at least some cash to the scammer.
To be effective, the fraudsters pretend to be someone known by the victim. Most attacks seem to come from service providers (banks, ISPs, ecommerce websites), friends or close family members.
How are scammers winning?
Most people believe that online scams are becoming more sophisticated and that newer technologies allow criminals to carry out more attacks. Yet despite this, the scams themselves are still quite similar.
More than half of attempted scams (62%) are still started using email for instance. This is followed by SMS text messaging (52%) and social media (29%). Which means that people are still being scammed through the same channels.
It’s becoming easier to fall for a scam
The actual methods used to con victims have changed very little – scammers simply pretend to be a someone trusted by their victims. However, we ourselves may be making it easier for criminals to attack us.
How? According to the majority of people surveyed, it’s because we have shared too much personal information online. Using social media, it is very easy for scammers to find the names and other details of our friends and family for instance. They can then use that information to build more convincing, effective scams.
Protecting yourself against online scams – the same rules apply
There are several things you can do to protect yourself against becoming a victim:
- Learn to spot suspicious emails – our handy guide shows you how to identify a phishing email.
- Be phone smart – discover how to identify and block text message scams.
- Avoid social media scams – read more about the Top 10 social media scams.
- Don’t overshare – scammers can find out all kinds of information from how you use social media (even the posts you ‘like’). Take a look at the ‘Don’t overshare on social media’ section here for more.
- Use anti-malware to prevent scammers from installing viruses and trojans that can steal your personal data and passwords (download a free trial of Panda Dome).
Ultimately, the best way to avoid becoming one of the majority people who are attacked, is to keep your wits about you. Use the links above to learn more about how scammers work – and how to better protect yourself against them.