In the United Kingdom, 3.5 million people have been victims of fraud and scam over the internet and the average amount of money lost per person is £875.Most of these scam victims were targeted when shopping online, phishing scams or online dating or romance scams.Experts say the reported cases are far lower than the actual numbers, as most victims feel too ashamed to report the crime to authorities, and it is estimated that only 1 out of 5 victims report internet crimes to the police or government.As a result, governments don’t know how serious the problem has become.Private investigators, on the other hand, are overwhelmed with requests. While the government is considering internet security a top priority, the population still believes it is its own responsibility to stay safe while surfing or connecting online. Most users think they know the basics of internet safety to keep away from scams, but statistics indicate otherwise.
U.K. investigators confirm that one of the main reasons internet users are hacked is because of the careless attitude they have over their passwords, making accounts easy to hack. Bank and financial institutions report that there should be a co- responsibility between the institutions and the users, and some users claim that internet providers should also share responsibility for protecting consumers.The blame and finger pointing goes around,as no one wants to take the responsibility, and no one yet knows how to effectively deal with the growing problem.
Truth is that the same amount of precaution should be taken online just as when you walk to an ATM or the physical bank itself. You don’t share your PIN or account number with anyone, therefore online should be the same. And even some people believe they know the basics to be safe online while doing any transactions involving their finances and banking, there is a high number of users that cannot tell the difference between a bogus phishing email versus an official email.And as criminals improve their methods, sometimes there is no way to be sure.
Bankers recommend that whenever you get a communication from any bank institution you are related with, to always verify if it is legitimate by calling the bank to confirm. Some cyber criminals send emails pretending to be a bank, charity or financial institution to get users account information very easily. In other cases, internet criminals may target victims on online dating sites and social networks, where internet users throw caution to the wind, and “share” everything that criminals need to steal your identity.Consumers should guard their personal data, and keep it off the internet as much as possible.The more personal data about you on the internet, the higher your risk.
U.K. private investigators recommend always verifying your contacts and relations whether over the internet or in person and to conduct international background checks to verify any person or business overseas.The risk for fraud is growing, so stay vigilant and verify.
A. Hathaway has 20 years of experience in global fraud prevention, international investigation and background checks for corporate and individual clients. He serves as a consultant for investigation firms in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and has been a senior investigator for cases in over 30 countries. He is considered an expert in risk mitigation and global due diligence.