International fraud awareness week – it doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But as uninteresting as fraud awareness maybe, no-one will argue that it’s not important so you might want to listen up 13-19 November 2016 And if you’re a prolific internet user then your senses should be even more heightened, because cybercrime is the fastest growing type of fraud; a couple of years ago it only accounted for about 20% of all financial crime but now it’s up to 44%. 

The cost of fraud and cybercrime in the UK was £10.9 billion during 2015, and in 2016 one in ten adults are affected by some form of cybercrime. Statistics also show that we’re all at risk – cybercriminals aren’t bothered by who you are or where you live. So, just how exactly are the scammers scamming us and how can we all be a bit more cyber savvy?

Cybercrime comes in many guises, the most common is phishing. Phishing works by criminals sending bogus emails pretending to be someone or an organisation you trust; they’ll ask you for personal details and sometimes are even brazen enough to ask for your bank account details. But your bank will never ask you for your password or your PIN. If you receive an email and don’t know what to make of it, contact your bank or the organisation that it claims to be from and verify it yourself without providing them with any of your personal details.

Something else to watch for are malicious viruses; it’s second nature to simply open an attachment in an email, but stop for a second and think about who it might be from. It could be that once you’ve opened the attachment, it lets loose a virus that’ll wipe out or take information from your system.

Generally, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. That tax rebate email that requires you to reply with your bank details so the money can be deposited? It’s probably a hoax – if you really were to get a tax rebate, you’ll usually get a cheque in the post that you can deposit in your bank yourself.

For more information, read our Staying safe online guide or our tips from a white hat hacker, which offer straightforward, practical advice about what you can do. Because keeping your private stuff, private shouldn’t be complicated and if we’re honest, most of it is common sense; after all, you wouldn’t leave your front door open with your car keys, bank details and passwords in a file saying ‘take us’, would you? So, let’s stay safe and beat the cybercriminals.