SCAM-BUSTERS have flagged the key mistakes that Brits are making that expose them to cyber crooks – potentially costing them hundreds of pounds.
Research published Tuesday by fraud-fighting outfit Rightly revealed that almost half of Brits have either fallen victim to an online scam or come close.
The survey filled out by 2,000 adults across the UK found that over a third (37 per cent) of those people lost money as a result.
A lack of awareness appears to be to blame, with Brits failing to take basic security steps, leaving them exposed to scams.
For instance, less than a third of those surveyed regularly change their passwords, while only 45 per cent are wary of free Wi-Fi spots in hotels and airports – a common hunting ground for scammers.
Speaking to The Sun, Rightly CEO James Walker said that online scams are a huge problem that isn’t talked about enough.
“It’s this hidden crime that victims are too embarrassed to talk about,” he said. “Therefore, everyone gets away with it.”
“We talk about the fact that there are scams, but no one sees the size and the damage that it does to individuals.”
Online scams remain a hugely popular way of generating cash among criminal gangs, with £1.3billion stolen by con artists last year.
They most commonly take the form of phishing scams in which an attacker poses as a bank or social media platform in a bid to get hold of your passwords, email address or other sensitive information.
From here, a craft crook can either use your details to defraud you or spread the scam to your friends and family.
To assess the British public’s readiness for scam attacks, Rightly conducted an online survey of 2,005 adults in early June, 2022.
Of those surveyed, 48 per cent – nearly one in two – said they had fallen victim to a scam or come close.
This figure rose to 64 per cent in London – the UK’s capital of frauds and scams.
According to the results, younger people are particularly vulnerable, with 42 per cent of 18-34 year olds, and the same proportion of 35-44-year-olds having previously fallen victim.
That’s despite these two groups generally indicating that they were confident in their ability to avoid online harm.
While consumers generally know to use complex passwords to protect their accounts, they’re missing key steps to bolster their security.
For instance, only half of Brits said that they regularly opt-out of third-party data use when visiting websites.
And only one in five reject the cookie pop-ups which appear when browsing pages across the web.
Accepting either of these prompts means consenting to your private data potentially falling into the wrong hands.
That’s because while your data is meant to be shared with marketing companies, it sometimes ends up on the dark web.
James said: “When you opt in to sharing your data with these websites, you don’t know where it’s going, how it’s being shared with or how it’s going to be used.
“It can end up with so-called data brokers, who sell your data on to hundreds of organisations if they can. Some of those could well be scammers.”
To make life harder for scammers, Rightly recommends changing your passwords regularly, and ensuring you use separate passwords for each account.
Avoid passwords which contain personal details such as names of streets and pets.
You should also avoid opting in to third-party data sharing and reject cookie requests where possible.
Finally, if you are connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, consider using a VPN (virtual private network) app which will encrypt everything you send and receive over the network.
If you’re worried that you might have fallen for a financial scam, the first thing you should do is contact your bank.
You should then report it to ActionFraud. Their website is actionfraud.police.uk, and their phone number is 0300 123 2040.
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