Consumer complacency leads to highest cybercrime levels in the UK in three years

UK cybercrime has risen to the highest levels in three years.

According to Garlik's annual UK cybercrime report, during 2008 cybercriminals adapted to the social and economic changes in the UK to exploit victims in new ways and commit over 3.6 million criminal acts online.

In addition, researchers believe that there is a growing complacency amongst consumers demonstrating poor understanding of their responsibility to protect their personal information against fraud.

The report also highlights that online banking fraud has increased by a staggering 132 per cent, with losses totalling £52.5 million, compared with £22.6 million in the previous year. This sharp rise can be mostly attributed to nearly 44,000 phishing websites specifically targeting banks and building societies in the UK.

Tom Ilube, CEO of Garlik, said: “We fear that account takeover fraud will continue to increase in 2009 due to the decline of available credit and tighter credit checking by the banks. Consumers must be extra vigilant of all their online and financial accounts as well as avoiding increasingly convincing phishing scams.”

The research claimed that one of the most significant changes in cybercrime has been the 207 per cent increase in account takeover fraud, which indicates that criminals have now shifted their efforts from opening new accounts with stolen identities to accessing existing accounts.

“As threats shift and change, it is essential for consumers to take steps for their own safety: even if they think that it is ‘someone else's problem'. It is not. Consumers need to be smart online and stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals,” said Ilube.

Michael Lynch, identity theft expert at CPP, said: “The fact we're seeing an increase in online banking fraud, due to the rise in phishing emails targeting consumers, is a really worrying development in the war against cyberfraud.

“We urge all consumers to remain vigilant about phishing and other online scams and to make sure that they regularly update their internet security to combat the changing threats from cyberfraud.  If they are concerned that their details have been compromised, cardholders need to get in touch with their bank immediately.”

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