More than on in ten (12 per cent) of UK internet users fell victim to fraud over the last 12 months.
A study sponsored by the government and industry online safety campaign, Get Safe Online, found that on average users lost £875 as a result of these scams, which hit an estimated 3.5m of the UK's 29m adult internet users. The survey of 2,200 adults suggests around 1.7m people in the UK suffered fraud while shopping online, 1.5m experienced another form of general online fraud and 1.2m were subject to bank account or credit card fraud as a result of activity online. Some unfortunates were subject to more than one type of fraud over the last year.
If surfers took the same precautions online as they would on the high street then fraudulent losses would drop, backers of the Get Safe Online campaign argue. But fewer than half (48 per cent) of internet users feel they are responsible for their own online safety. One-in-six (16 per cent) believe their bank is wholly responsible for their online protection, whilst 13 per cent feel reckon ISPs should shield them from security threats.
Despite the attitude that internet safety is someone else's responsibility held by many a majority (53 per cent) thought that there should be an 'internet safety test' – much like the driving test – to ensure surfers are aware of the online risks and of their personal responsibility to stay safe. More than three-quarters of those surveyed (78 per cent) felt that there should be lessons in schools to teach youngsters safe surfing tips.
Pat McFadden, the minister with responsibility for transformational government, commented: "As we make more services available online so we need users to take the same basic precautions in using the internet as they would when making transactions in the high street – such as not sharing your bank details or passwords.
"This Survey shows that although the internet offers great opportunities for people to carry out their business when and how they like, people must also take care if we are to stop criminals abusing greater popular use of the net."
The Get Safe Online website has a variety of tips on how to use the internet safely here. ®