The Threat of Online Fraud
Online fraud will not go away.
This is just one of many facts about the new phenomenon of online fraud that has snowballed since the birth of online shopping in the 1990s.
Using a variety of techniques, fraudsters have been conning innocent people out of money by means of dodgy emails, fake websites, password sniffing and other techniques, in order to steal money, launder it and make people like you suffer.
Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right knowledge, you can stay safe from phishing and other techniques used to rip you off. Start by taking in some of the facts and figures below, just so you understand the scale of online fraud.
Just remember – the facts here demonstrate exactly how clever and devious these criminals are. You literally cannot drop your guard even for a second.
Online Fraud Facts
Online fraud can take the following forms:
• Fake lotteries
• Letters/emails asking you to “look after” money
• Undelivered goods/services (often via sites such as eBay)
• Fake check/overpayment fraud
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) (a taskforce involving the FBI), 2009 saw a 22.3% increase in complaints, totalling 336,655. This is for the USA alone, and doesn’t take into account fraud in Europe and Asia. There is also no representation in this figure for those that didn’t report the fraud, either because they don’t know that they can, or they don’t know they’ve been scammed.
(Image credit: creativecommons.org)
Top Fraud Facts and Figures
2009’s figures show that frauds involving online services and activities were high, and this can only be expected to rise in 2010.
19.9% - non-delivered merchandise and/or payment
14.1% - identity theft
10.4% - credit card fraud,
10.3% - auction fraud,
7.9% - computer fraud
The Internet Crime Complaint Center’s figures indicate that of the referred complaints, 2009’s recorded losses dwarf those of 2008, with the previous year’s figure of $264.6 million almost doubling to $559.7 million in 2009.
Preventing Online Fraud – What You Can Do
Being aware of the risks of online transactions is only a small aspect of what you can do to avoid becoming one of these statistics. To avoid falling for any of these scams:
• Ignore emails, phone calls and letters asking you to donate money to charitable causes. Seek out genuine, registered charities and contribute to these directly.
• Install email scanning software to block phishing and other email-based scams such as fake lotteries.
• Carry out online transactions with banks and shopping sites only where you see the URL in your browser’s address bar change to HTTPS:// and a small padlock appears in the bottom of the browser. Also stick to reputable online companies such as Amazon.
• Use a credit card when paying for items online – any problems can be resolved by contacting the credit card company and disputing the transaction.