Helen Nugent

Don’t let cyber criminals steal your money - take steps to protect your finances

Don't let cyber criminals steal your money - take steps to protect your finances
Text settings

It's the modern malaise: online fraud. In a world where so many of our transactions happen over the internet, it's little wonder that fraudsters have descended on the web in droves.

The latest statistics paint a bleak picture. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 11.5 million incidents of crime relating to computer misuse and fraud offences in 2016. That's cybercrime on an unprecedented level.

Now new research suggests that more than one in ten Britons have had to cancel a credit or debit card in the past year due to online fraud. Comparethemarket.com says this reveals a worsening state of affairs, with the number of people cancelling cards rising from 4.5 million to 5.5 million since the research was last conducted in September 2016.

Of the people who fell victim to a hack and had money stolen, the average amount taken soared from £475 to £600. Aside from the distress caused to the individual, issues of hacking present a real problem for bankscustomer retention, as almost one in four customers who had money stolen had changed or were in the process of changing their bank or credit card provider.

The most significant cause of hacking was online payments, which accounted for 46 per cent of those surveyed. Almost one in ten of those who were the victim of a hack had their card duplicated at an ATM, while identity theft accounted for 11 per cent of hacks.

Nevertheless, customers said they are broadly happy with how cyber-attacks are handled, with nine in ten of those affected saying they were satisfied with the way in which the company dealt with the issue.

But we as customers can do more to prevent fraud. Almost one in five respondents said that they have the same PIN for all of their cards, while one in ten had the same online password for all of their accounts. It's a pain to have different PINs and passwords for our myriad of accounts, but doing that could help to deter fraudsters.

Shakila Hashmi, head of money at comparethemarket.com, said: 'These are worrying findings. While banks and their customers are becoming wiser to the serious threat of cybercrime, this research shows that there is a lot more work to be done to stem the growing tide of attacks. Both the card provider and customer have a responsibility to protect their accounts from intrusion and theft. While banks need to improve investment in cybercrime defence, there are some things that people can do to protect themselves. Beyond making sure you have different PIN numbers for different cards and changing your password regularly, the most important thing is to check your accounts on a regular basis to look out for any criminal or suspicious activity, as in many cases small but regular thefts take place which are harder to spot.'

Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator