Phishing Scams Cost UK Consumers £174m In 2015

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British consumers hit by 21 percent rise in phishing attacks over 2015, GetSafeOnline report finds

The UK saw a significant rise in phishing attacks during 2015 as cybercriminals increasingly targeted consumers with online scams.

Figures from GetSafeOnline, the government-backed cybersecurity body, found that phishing attacks rose 21 percent during 2015, costing British consumers a total of £174.4m over the course of the year.

The organisation has now partnered with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, along with leading UK banks and law authorities to launch a new advertising campaign warning the public about the dangers of ‘social engineering’ scams such as fake phone calls and emails.

Under attack

phishingOverall, the number of reported phishing scams reported between November 2014 – October 2015 totalling 95,556, according to figures from Action Fraud, a 21 percent increase over the same period of the previous year.

And research from Get Safe Online found that that over a quarter (26 percent) of victims of online crime have been scammed by these types of social engineering emails or phone calls.

Unsurprisingly, email phishing proved the most popular form of scam, making up over three quarters (77 percent) of all reported incidents, followed by phone calls, which accounted for one in ten (12 percent) incidents.

Over a quarter (29 percent) of all reported phishing emails were also found to contain a potentially malicious link which when clicked, could deliver malware to a victim’s computer or request their personal details.

Many of the most popular angles and guises for phishing scams concern masquerading as a legitimate company or organisation, with BT, iTunes/Apple ID, HRMC the most common. Interestingly, the scams reached their peak on October 21, the date of the TalkTalk data breach, showing the willingness of cybercriminals to prey on vulnerable customers.

This increase has also led to a growth in awareness of phishing scams, as over a fifth of people (22 percent) said they are most concerned about this sort of online crime, which GetSafeOnline is now hoping to increase further.

“Social engineering is becoming ever more targeted and personal, which is why it’s no surprise that the number of cases is on the rise,” said Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online.

“What’s worrying, however, is the complex nature of these scams and how they tap perfectly into feelings that make us panic – if we get an email purporting to come from someone we trust (such as our bank) about something that is emotive to us all (money) and then demand that we act urgently, it’s almost like the perfect storm. “

“We also advise that people make sure they have strong passwords or PINs to secure devices, as well as making sure all software and apps are up-to-date. If you do have suspicions regarding an approach, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so trust your instincts and double-check the person is who they say they are before handing over any information. This way, we can stay one step ahead and stop more people from falling prey to an online criminal.”

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