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Cybercrime is getting personal: one in five victims think they were specifically targeted


·         Only 38% of victims of cybercrimes think it was a down to bad luck

·         Over a third of victims felt vulnerable following the attack

·         UK public lost £286 million to cybercrimes in the last 12 months

·          ‘It’s Always Personal’ theme for Get Safe Online Week 2015

19th October 2015: The UK public has been left feeling vulnerable following an increase in highly personalised cybercrimes according to Get Safe Online, the joint public private internet safety initiative. In a specially commissioned survey* for Get Safe Online Week (19th-25th October), almost one in five (18%) victims of a cybercrime believe they were specifically targeted by fraudsters and over a third (37%) had been left feeling vulnerable as a result. Only 38% of the victims believed that the incident was down to bad luck and over half (57%) think it’s becoming much easier to fall victim to an online crime.

It’s always personal

The Get Safe Online survey went on to show that almost a quarter of victims (26%) had been scammed by phishing emails or ‘vishing’ phone calls. These are a much more targeted type of scam where the fraudster uses data about the victim pieced together from various sources such as social media and intercepted correspondence to sound convincing, and manipulates them into sharing confidential information linked to online accounts.’

Other areas where victims were targeted include:

·         Fake tax rebate emails (13%)

·         Phone/tablet/laptop hacking (9%)

·         Identity theft (5%)

·         Cyber bullying or harassment (4%)

·         Personal images stolen via webcam hacking (1%).

The financial cost of a crime

41% of people who have been a victim of a cybercrime lost money with the average person losing £738. Men however are likely to lose significantly more, with the average loss being £839 compared to £617 for women. Shockingly, 8% stated they had lost in excess of £5,000.

Separate figures, prepared by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) for Get Safe Online Week, give an indication to the sheer scale of online crime, with over £268 million lost nationwide to the top ten internet-enabled frauds reported between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015. The £268 million number comes from reports of fraud, calculated when the first contact to victims was via an online function.

However, as a significant number of internet-enabled fraud cases still go unreported the true economic cost to the UK is likely to be significantly higher.  According to the survey, almost one in five (19%) don’t bother reporting a cybercrime.

Rising awareness of cyber crime  

The survey also indicates that the public are more aware of the risk of cybercrime; 30% of those surveyed think they know more about online safety now compared to a year ago and a further 21% say they know more than they did two years ago.

High profile data breaches in the news have also made people more cautious about their behaviour online, with the majority (64%) of the public being more cautious about sharing their personal data with companies. However, women are much more cautious (69%) compared to just 58% of men. 23% claimed it was specifically the Carphone Warehouse breach, 22% said they were most worried following the rise in scams in the wake of the pension reforms earlier in the year, 18% cited the Apple iTunes email scam and 17% stated the Talk Talk, Sony and Ashley Madison data hacks respectively.

What aren’t we doing to keep ourselves safe?

Despite concerns about cybercrimes being front of mind, the survey indicates that people are still struggling with basic safety precautions.  Almost two thirds (65%) claim they could do more to stay safe online.  Almost a quarter (22%) aren’t conscious about using strong passwords, 13% still have public social media accounts and one in 10 don’t bother using security software on their connected devices.

Tony Neate, Chief Executive of Get Safe Online, comments: 

“As we spend more of our lives online, our digital footprints inevitably get bigger. Sadly, that means opportunist fraudsters will use information about us to make their scams more believable and difficult to detect. Being online offers so many great opportunities for everyone and we would never discourage anyone from enjoying and benefiting from them. However, we do urge people to take precautions so they don’t make themselves vulnerable to underhanded scammers.  

There are simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves online, including putting a password on any of your connected devices such as your phone or tablet, using the highest security settings on your social media accounts and never disclosing your confidential details when you are contacted by an email or on the phone, a legitimate organisation would never ask you to do this.

The results of our survey show that cybercrime is getting much more personal so this Get Safe Online week we’re calling for people to be aware of this and take the small steps to keep themselves safe. Don’t let the criminals win!”

Detective Superintendent Pete O’Doherty, Head of the City of London Police’s NFIB, said:

Who you need to speak to

·         If you think you have been a victim of cyber-enabled economic fraud (i.e. where you have lost money) you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting

·         If you are a victim of online abuse or harassment, you should report it to your local police force.

·         For general advice on how to stay safe online go to


For further information:

·         Contact the Get Safe Online press office team on 0207 025 6662 or [email protected]

·         Visit on social media:

·         Twitter: @getsafeonline

·         Facebook:

·         Google+:

About the research

The study was conducted by OnePoll between 23rd and 24th September and polled 2000 UK adults who access the internet.

About Get Safe Online Week

Now in its tenth year, the aim of Get Safe Online Week is to educate, inform and raise awareness of online security issues to make sure consumers and small businesses can use the internet safely and confidently. Partners and supporters are encourages to issue awareness posters, website banners and promote internet safety advice on social media. Local communities also get involved by setting up regional ‘Get Safe Online Week’ events to raise awareness of this pressing issue, and to play their part in protecting people of all ages from becoming victims of fraud, identity theft, abuse and other issues. For more information on Get Safe Online Week, please visit:

*Survey of 2,000 people by OnePoll