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New survey shows public more concerned about online fraud than burglary: how to protect yourself

By NatWest on 26 Apr, 2018

A new survey by NatWest has revealed that half of British adults online say they are most concerned about being a victim of fraud in the next 12 months. This compares to a third (33%) who were most worried about their home being burgled. But are people making sure they are taking the necessary safety precautions when using the internet?

People are generally cautious

The survey revealed that, thankfully, the majority of people know the basics on how to stay safe online and are generally wary of sharing sensitive information with others.

Only 15% of British adults would share their mother’s maiden name when talking online with a friend, and less than 1 in 10 (9%) of people have shared their online banking passwords with someone before.

Unsurprisingly, younger people are more willing to share personal information with others online perhaps because, as digital natives, they are more trusting of the internet. When asked if they were comfortable sharing personal information with their friends online, 84% of those aged 18 to 24 said they would be comfortable, compared to 50% of those aged over 55.

Tony Neate, CEO at Get Safe Online, is not surprised that younger people are happier to share: “We know first-hand that younger people practice less online safety hygiene. Our research shows that under 25s are more than twice as susceptible to phishing scams as those over 55, so it’s no surprise that a higher proportion of young people are also more willing to share their personal data.”

How to stay safe when sharing information online

   - If someone has asked you for a piece of personal information when chatting online, before sharing, ask yourself ‘why does this person want this information?’ and ‘should I share this online, or tell them in person?’.

   - When you receive an email or message which looks suspicious, and you think might be a phishing message, think before you reply or take action. If you’ve received a message like this, report it to Action Fraud and the company that it is supposed to be from.

Social media platforms are not doing enough to protect their users

Young people are also less likely to be restrictive with what they share online, with 50% saying they were always or often restrictive - 10% less than the national average. They are also the least likely to have strict security settings, with 73% saying their security settings are either very or fairly strict, compared to an average of 84%.

A staggering 56% of UK adults said that they think social media platforms should have stricter security settings. In fact, only 8% said they felt there was no need for tighter security on social media. In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this may come as no surprise.

So what should you do to protect yourself on social media?

Mikko Hypponen, tech expert and Chief Research Officer for F-Secure, has some simple advice when deciding what to post online: “Never post anything online that you wouldn’t mind seeing posted on the cover of a newspaper. Even if you think your post is not visible to everyone, it could well be.”

How to stay safe when using social media

   - When using an online messaging service, make sure you know the identity of the person you are talking to online.

   - Make sure your security settings are set to the strictest they can be and only people you allow to see your profiles can see them, rather than having a public profile.

As Mikko said, post something online only that you would be happy for everyone and anyone to see, just in case. What about if you’ve been a victim?

Perhaps worryingly, the survey revealed that nearly a quarter (22%) of British adults said they wouldn’t know what to do if they were experiencing online security problems. And this number is even higher for younger people, with 34% of full-time students not knowing what to do.

Tony Neate says the most important thing to do if you’ve been a victim is to contact your bank as soon as possible: “If you suspect you’ve been a victim of an online security breach involving your account, you should contact your bank straight away.”

What to do if you’ve been a victim

   - Contact your bank immediately so they can block your accounts from the fraudsters. This will help your bank stop the fraudsters and alert other customers of the fraud attack.

   - Report the fraud, cybercrime or phishing attempt to Action Fraud, the National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre, to help the police prevent further attacks.

For more information about how to protect yourself online have a look through our online guides.