The number of scams rose by a third in 2020, reaching more than 410,000 cases, according to an analysis by consumer rights group Which? They found that online shopping and auctions fraud were the most frequent by a wide margin, with approximately 103,254 incidents.
<p>We should take the rise in online scams last year as a wake-up call, rather than simply dismissing it as just another aspect of the pandemic. The Internet is now woven into the fabric of our lives and many of us now routinely bank, shop and socialise online. This makes life more convenient, but ultimately every online transaction opens a window of opportunity for cybercriminals.</p>
<p>Major retailers continue to see ecommerce sales on the rise, but not all retailers have raised their security standards to match this. This means that, while the number of data breaches fluctuates, we continue to see a steady stream of attacks that result in people’s data being exposed. Although many companies are encrypting data, not all do so, leaving data exposed to cybercriminals.</p>
<p>Equally, secure handling of personal data by online providers isn’t the whole picture. Online fraud often relies on social engineering, manipulating the individual to hand over key details. A sizable chunk of online scams could be avoided by people installing Internet security software, applying regular updates to all active software, and by using strong unique passwords across all accounts. Consumers should also be aware of the dangers posed by illegitimate sites and unsolicited messages. Notably, for those who took lockdown as an opportunity to venture into crypto-currency trading, it’s important to remember to secure their digital money by only doing business on reputable exchanges and securing their crypto-currency wallets effectively.</p>