14 May 2009: The first recession of the internet age poses a threat that many of Britain’s thirty million online banking users are not prepared for, according to a study commissioned by money.co.uk. The study found that more than nine million people (31%) do not know how to identify the fake emails that cyber-criminals use to steal online banking details. The practice is known as phishing and is often a precursor to the online banking fraud which cost the UK £52.5m in 2008.
Key research findings included:
• 38% of online Brits are more worried about the safety of bank deposits than they were prior to the credit crunch
• 26% of online banking customers (7.8m) would open an email from their bank warning about an urgent online banking security issue – a ruse often used by fraudsters
• Almost 10% (9.1% , or 2.7m adults) would act on its instructions, potentially handing security details to fraudsters
• 31% (9.3m) do not know how to tell if an email apparently from their bank is genuine.
Chris Morling, manager director of money.co.uk, said: “It is a surprise to find that so many people are still unaware that fraudsters use fake emails to trick people into giving away their online banking security details. The reality is that, whilst banks do email their customers from time to time, they rarely ask for a response, and never ask customers to reveal personal information or security details.
“Given what has happened to the banks in recent times, it is understandable that people are more concerned about the safety of their money – but there should be a real concern that this will see more people fall into the fraudsters’ trap, particularly as crime tends to rise during a recession.”
There is already evidence that economic turbulence is driving crime upwards, with cyber crime leading the charge. Last year alone, online banking fraud losses rose by 132% , reversing a downward trend from previous years. Meanwhile, general fraud and forgery rose by just 16%.
Morling added: “This is the first recession since the mass acceptance of online banking, and the emergence of phishing as a serious problem. The criminals behind these scams are pretty sophisticated, creating copies of online banking sites to harvest log in and security details from people prompted to visit them by fake bank emails. If you don’t know how to spot these scams, they can be very convincing.”
Older and wiser
Perhaps surprisingly, young adults (18-24) who have grown up with the internet, are most at risk according to the research from money.co.uk:
• 38% would open an email from their bank warning about an urgent online banking security issue (compared with 26% of all adults)
• 17.1% would act on its instructions (compared with 9.1%)
• 33% do not know how to tell if an email apparently from their bank is genuine.
Morling said: “It seems that older generations, who have adapted to internet banking, are more naturally cautious. For younger users, online banking has been the norm from day one and is something they take for granted, when they’d be better off adopting the cautious attitude of their parents when it comes to this issue.”
To coincide with the release of its study findings, money.co.uk has developed a free downloadable guide for anyone wanting to know more about phishing scams and how to avoid them. The guide can be downloaded from www.money.co.uk.
Morling said: “The use of jargon to describe these kinds of issues is not helpful - according to our research, 20% of people do not know what phishing is. More information, written in plain English, is required and I hope that our guide will help to protect more people from fraudsters.”
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Notes for editors:
About the research
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2127 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 8th - 11th May 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all online GB adults (aged 18+).
Money.co.uk is the UK’s fastest growing money comparison website. It offers whole of market comparison on a wide range of financial products and services. Comparison tables are complemented by expert guides to ensure visitors can make informed comparisons and choose the right financial products with confidence.
It makes saving money and making money easy.
For more information, contact:
Tel: 07974 161127
Tel: +33 647 277996
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