We’re all at risk of online scams, but why are some types more common in the North than in the South? Wherever you live, it’s worth keeping up to date on how to stay safe…
Online scams are on the rise – and it seems that where you live could influence the type of scam you need to watch out for.
Based on the five months leading up to December 2014, figures from Action Fraud show that online shopping and auction scams are most common in the North. In contrast, computer software fraud and online bank account scams are more typical in the South.
Regional differences for online scams
What’s less clear is why the same trends don’t apply across all of the UK. Online shopping scams accounted for 35% of the scam reports in Scotland, 21% of those in the North East, 24% in the North West and 25% in Yorkshire and Humberside.
But head south of the Midlands and the most commonly reported scams relate to computer software service fraud (Wales and the South West) and cheque, plastic card and online bank accounts (East, South East and London).
London seems to be the place for bank scams, with 50% more of these reported than online shopping scams. But it’s not as though Londoners don’t shop online – in fact, research suggests that Londoners are more likely than anyone to buy certain goods over the internet.
So what’s going on? Do scammers live in regional hubs with specialised scamming skills? Do those with a particular talent for online shopping scams gravitate towards the North, while fraudsters with a flair for card scams move south?
Whatever the cause, make sure you know how to spot and avoid some of the most common types of cyber crime doing the rounds.
How to spot a cyber crime
So how do online shopping scams work? Victims may be sent a phishing email that looks like it’s from a credible source, such as an online shop, auction site or payment gateway (such as PayPal). It will ask them to update their personal details – or even bank account information – by following a link to a copycat site. Once they have this information, the scammers could use it to steal a victim’s ID or money.
It’s important spot these scams quickly so you can steer well clear. So for those of you with a love of internet shopping, hear are some tips:
- If you get an email from a site you use regularly, asking you to update your details, don’t follow the link. Instead, go to the site directly to see whether the request’s genuine.
- Try to avoid paying by transfer; opt for a credit card or PayPal.
And to avoid anyone snooping around your bank account follow these tips:
- Banks will never contact their customers by email to ask for passwords or other sensitive information.
- Watch out for emails containing grammatical errors, typos or oddly placed capitals; they’re sometimes written that way to get round spam filters.
- The phone number or email address might look legit, but this is no guarantee the person’s really from the company they say they are.
Also, remember there are computer software scams too:
- Don’t allow anyone spontaneous remote access to your computer.
- The ‘Microsoft lottery’ doesn’t exist, so unfortunately you can’t have won it.
Have you been scammed online or fallen victim to a fraudster? Do you have any top tips for avoiding these types of scam?