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Online fraudsters ‘sting' users for £875 - Get Safe Online

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Online fraudsters ‘sting' users for £875 - Get Safe Online

Internet users who have experienced online fraud lost an average of £875* each over the past twelve months, according to “Internet Safety: The State of the Nation,” research by the government and industry online safety campaign,  Get Safe Online .

A survey of UK internet adult users – who number 29 million – found that 12% (almost 3.5 million people) had experienced online fraud in the last year.  In that time, 6% of all internet users (1.7 million people) suffered fraud while shopping online, 5% (1.5 million) experienced another form of general online fraud and 4% (1.2 million) were subject to bank account or credit card fraud as a result of activity online (some users experienced more than one of these).

The rise in online fraud comes as UK internet activity has risen dramatically.  The report found that 93% of internet users now use the web daily and that, on average, we each spend £1,044 per year buying goods and services on the web – equivalent to £30 billion for the UK online population as a whole.

Whose responsibility is it anyway?

The Get Safe Online research pointed to the fact that, if internet users took the same precautions online that they do on the high street, a substantial proportion of online fraud losses could be prevented.

Fewer than half (48%) of internet users feel they are responsible for their own online safety.  One-in-six (16%) believe their bank is wholly responsible for their online protection, whilst 13% feel that it is up to their internet service provider. 

When asked which two things they take most care to protect, internet users report that they look after their credit/ bank cards and their wallets first and foremost (56% and 42% respectively).  Just 9% take most care to protect their website password and 1% their email address.

Pat McFadden, Minister with responsibility for Transformational Government, said: “The Internet is transforming how we get and use information. It is also helping us reform our public services around the needs of the individual.

“However as we make more services available online so we need users to take the same basic precautions in using the internet as they would when making transactions in the high street – such as not sharing your bank details or passwords.

“This Survey shows that although the Internet offers great opportunities for people to carry out their business when and how they like, people must also take care if we are to stop criminals abusing greater popular use of the Net.”

Tony Neate, managing director of Get Safe Online said: “The Internet is a fantastic resource and its use is growing daily. Unfortunately, it is now also being used by criminals who are out to defraud us.”

“If we all take greater care to protect our personal information online, we can reduce the majority of these criminal activities. Our message is that each one of us has to take greater personal responsibility for our own online security.  To help achieve this Get Safe Online has a website, , which provides all the information that people need to know in order to safeguard themselves from criminal activity on-line.” 

Garreth Griffith, head of Trust and Safety at and director of Get Safe Online added: “You wouldn't give a stranger the key to your front door, but this is the situation many people unknowingly find themselves in with the more sophisticated forms of online fraud.”

“Although many organisations will provide a means to recover lost money, ultimately there are simple steps people can take that can reduce the risks in the first place.  On eBay, we would encourage users to visit the Safety Centre, which includes advice and tools to help trade safely on the site”

Safety on the curriculum?

“Internet Safety: The State of the Nation” asked users what they wanted to see more of to increase user safety on the internet.

Over half (53%) thought that there should be an “Internet Safety Test” – much like the driving test – that should be taken by web users, to ensure they are aware of the risks and of their personal responsibility to stay safe.

Over three-quarters of those surveyed (78%) felt that there should be lessons in schools to help young people understand the risks and know how to stay safe on the internet.


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