A Web of Deceit

Trusting UK consumers are not prepared enough for the potential scams that exist online, an ICM survey by Get Safe Online has found, despite the fact that two thirds (66%) - approximately 19 million people, have been confronted with a suspicious email or website, and over one third (39%) - around 11 million people, have received spurious emails asking for banking details or advising them of a lottery win or inheritance.

Increasingly, scammers are creating emails which are so convincing that they appear to be from legitimate companies, by using corporate logos with links to highly sophisticated fake websites. Despite this, online shoppers and surfers are still not taking adequate precautions to protect themselves online, and this has led to concerns that UK consumers are too trusting and likely to believe a tempting email offer.

In the survey of men and women aged over 18 years around 8 million (29%) are not aware, or aware but unsure of protective measures, that fraudsters now have the ability to copy real websites and lure people to a fraudulent website with an attractive and realistic looking email offer. By considering replying to these kinds of emails, consumers are putting themselves at risk of having their money stolen by a fraudster.

In addition, the survey found that almost half (45%), around 17 Million people, would not automatically delete an unusual or unfamiliar email, despite the increase in scamming online and a recorded 5.7 Billion phishing emails sent each month (Anti-Phishing Working Group figures) – that’s almost one for every person in the planet. Over a quarter (28%) of people felt that reading the email carefully and trusting their instincts is an acceptable measure to avoid being a victim of online fraud, and 24% felt that simply asking a friend for advice would be sufficient.

Donna Dawson, Psychologist, commented: “Consumers are still treading in unfamiliar territory when it comes to recognising scams online; most online users are not that technically sophisticated, and so are usually unaware of what to look out for. Even when they are aware to some degree, the computer screen offers a false sense of security: not having the scamming person in front of you, either vocally or physically, gives the consumer time to think things over, providing the illusion that he/she has arrived at a carefully-thought-through, or instinctive, conclusion. However, a decision made without all the facts, or one made on 'gut instinct' alone, is no substitute for knowledge."

Top 5 email cons…

Lottery winning details

Fake payment details request

Updating account details for an online service

Notice of an inheritance

Foreign aid/ charity payment

Nick Staib from Get Safe Online said: “It is important that consumers are aware of the increase and professionalism of online scammers. You wouldn’t let a suspicious sales person into your house; and the same amount of caution should be taken when receiving emails from unfamiliar people or companies.

“Conmen prey on trusting consumers and there are a number of protective measures that people can take. We urge people to seek advice from an experienced source and visit the Get Safe Online website if they unsure about anything they receive.”

Authoritative and impartial free advice on how to protect your self from fraudsters can be found at www.getsafeonline.org