Regional news: Online scams have overtaken ‘traditional’ crime

Cybercrime survey

Cybercrime survey

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The biggest ever regional cybercrime survey results are in, and 84 per cent of respondents said they have been targeted in the last year.

With more than 11,600 responses, the survey aimed to give the first in-depth look at South East residents’ experiences and perceptions of online crime.

‘Phishing’ scams (messages which appear to be from a legitimate source, but try to persuade the reader to hand over money, or to reveal passwords or bank details) are by far the most common type of cybercrime, with 964 respondents saying they had been scammed.

Banking fraud and social media account hacking are also widespread (348 and 326 victims respectively).

Of those people who had been victims, 29 per cent had been left out of pocket, some losing more than £1,000, but very few reported them to the police or to Action Fraud.

A statement from Surrey Police, whose Police and Crime Commissioner organised the survey, said: “The most commonly given reason for not reporting was that they thought it would be a ‘waste of time’, and they ‘didn’t think anything could be done’. Most people just complain to those close to them, or report losses to their bank.

“Many people consider themselves to have a ‘complete’ or ‘good’ understanding of the risks that they face online, but are nevertheless still failing to take basic steps to protect themselves. National schemes such as CyberStreetWise and Get Safe Online are underused, with only 8 per cent of people making use of these services.”

Surrey Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Harris said: “Whilst we’ve known for a long time that cybercrime is a growing problem, we haven’t really understood how it impacts on our local communities. However, thanks to the brilliant response from residents, we are now in a far better position to work with our partner agencies to reduce the risk of victimisation.”

Head of the joint Surrey and Sussex Cyber Crime Unit DI Andy Haslam said: “These results are extremely important as for the first time it gives us an idea of how people are affected by cybercrime. They confirm what we are already seeing in that online crime is affecting a large proportion of society, but offences are going vastly un-reported.

“You can actually play the biggest part in preventing yourself from becoming a victim, just by taking some very simple steps for instance by using strong passwords, checking your social media privacy settings, and keeping your anti-virus software. You should also never click on links in emails if you are unfamiliar with the sender, or open attachments if you’re not expecting them.”

Further highlights from the survey, along with a copy of the full survey report, are available here: http://www.cybersafesurrey.org/surveyresults/

The survey is part of a larger piece of work being conducted by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey.

Organisers say it will form part of a new Local Cybercrime Profile, which will be made available in Spring 2016, providing an evidence base for local preventative work.

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