Online fraud is nothing new and has been a concern for both private individuals and businesses for the longest time. Something in the background that we’re vaguely aware of. But the surge in cybercrime of late has been nothing short of horrific. According to information in a recent online article in The Guardian, over £1.3bn was stolen by con artists last year who had tricked victims into making payments.
That’s a substantial amount of money and as a result, we’ve all become a little more aware of the dangers of being taken for a few pounds (or more).
The scams that hoodwinked so many out of so much money, collectively speaking, are referred to as authorised push payment fraud (APP). Around 40% of these APP fraud losses have been the result of impersonation scams, and while it may seem unlikely to you that a person could be duped in this day and age when the awareness is at an all time high, cyber criminals have become adept at what they do.
It’s no longer just about just a cute but compelling song and dance, instead criminals use carefully designed collateral that mimics trusted contacts in order to trick victims into moving their money. And it works. They’ve been able to walk off with an estimated £214.8m using this method – so trust us, it works.
This is just one example – there are multiple ways that online fraud takes place. Thankfully, there are strategies and tools that you can use to protect yourself, your family, and as a business owner, you can protect your business and your customers.
Let’s dive into the increasing dangers and protective strategies available to you.
What Are The Increasing Dangers?
In the last year in the UK, it was found there were 195,996 incidents of APP fraud, which is 27% up from the previous year. This is largely because people worked more from home and spent longer online, invariably shopping more on the Internet and making them more susceptible to fraud.
We’ve already touched briefly on impersonation scams, where criminals impersonate organisations known for requiring personal and financial information, such as the NHS, banks and government departments, and persuade people to provide these details.
But in addition to using these details to then convince account holders to make payments, there are other ways that criminals commit online fraud.
Examples of online fraud that’s increased:
- Investment scams have also been on the rise, jumping up by 57% and resulting in losses of £171.7m in total.
- Purchase scams (tricking people into buying products that don’t exist) have risen by 25%.
- Romance scams that involve criminals befriending victims online (usually on online dating sites) before asking for money, rose by 73% during 2021.
- CEO fraud grew the most over this period, which is where scammers pretend to be senior staff members and email business accounts departments, requesting urgent payments be made to a supplier or partner.
How To Protect Yourself From Online Scams
Having seen that APP fraud losses have increased over the past year, it stands to reason that we need to do more to protect ourselves from even the most wily of fraudsters.
How to avoid falling victim to online scams:
- Be careful what you pay for
Be cautious about paying an unknown entity or person. One of the ways to make sure that you aren’t being scammed is to use ‘confirmation of payee’ or you could pay £1 first and call the intended recipient to check that they have received the money.
- Call back to verify
Technology has come a long way and scammers can now override caller ID to pretend to be from a trusted source. Using number spoofing they can even take over text chains from your bank. If you weren’t expecting a call or can’t be 100% that the message is real, then disengage. Hang up. Rather call them back on the official number.
- Toughen up your security settings
Given that these scams are happening online, it makes sense to protect yourself if you’re using your personal and financial information online. We urge you to review your privacy settings and make sure that you only use strong, unique passwords for email and social media accounts – and a password manager to keep track of them all.
- Ignore links from texts and emails
Even if the messages seem legitimate, from a company or person you would typically trust, don’t click on links that are sent to you. There are always new scams, cleverly worded and oftentimes brilliantly current with what’s happening in the world today, but don’t click. For example, texts from the NHS about test-and-trace or the local council reaching out about a tax rebate. All it takes is one click and you could be opening the door to hackers who want your details.
Protect Your Business And Your Customers From Online Fraud
Clearly online fraud is a much more real threat than consumers and business owners like to think, and clearly, more needs to be done. So much so that UK Finance has advised that online platforms, from social media to search engines and shopping sites, do whatever they can to provide a barrier to fraud.
Remember CEO fraud? Well, the £12.7 million in losses from these scams, which, by the way reflects an increase of 165% since the previous year, are enough to signify to business owners that businesses need to do more.
Leaving things as they are is simply supplying a conduit to criminals.
In our experience, there is a lot that you can do to help protect your customers from the scourge of online fraud and secure your business. You need only be proactive and select the protective services that you need from a service provider whom you can trust.
At Security Everywhere, we give small businesses the opportunity to pick and choose from the products that we offer under each of our categories, including Computer Security, Password Security, Email Security, Backup & Recovery, and Cyber Training. In this way, you can build the cover that your business needs and that your customers will expect.
Moreover, we have made it quick and easy for you to set up, which means that you can protect your business in 10 minutes or less and feel secure as you 100% focus on doing what you do best while we take care of the rest.
If you’re worried about losing your money, your data or your reputation – it’s time to protect yourself! Talk to us about our easy and affordable managed security services that can help both households and small businesses.
Protect yourself today.