Warning over internet crime

ELECTRONIC theft has overtaken traditional forms of credit card crime as the top most reported type of fraud in Suffolk, it has emerged.Officers are warning members of the public to protect themselves from becoming a victim following a surge in the number of cases involving email and internet fraud.

By Danielle Nuttall

ELECTRONIC theft has overtaken traditional forms of credit card crime as the top most reported type of fraud in Suffolk, it has emerged.

Officers are warning members of the public to protect themselves from becoming a victim following a surge in the number of cases involving email and internet fraud.

Fraud officer Paul Rawlings, from Suffolk Constabulary, said criminals were moving on to other ways of stealing cash because of the introduction of Chip and PIN at the point of sale in February last year.


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“More and more credit card fraud reported to us seems to emanate from the computer or the internet. It's over-taking other types of fraud,” he said.

“I think it has increased in line with everywhere else in the country.

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“The overall figure for plastic fraud in the UK last year was £31.9m. That was a 3% drop on the year before.

“But the area of card not present fraud, where people make purchases on the internet or people's accounts have been plundered as a result of information they have given out, has risen.

“It's swings and roundabouts. They're going to move to an area where they find it easier.”

It is impossible to calculate the extent of the problem in Suffolk because internet crime falls into many categories when it is reported.

Mr Rawlings also said police forces are limited in the way they can deal with the crime.

“There have been successful prosecutions in relation to internet fraud in various forms,” he said.

“But technology causes huge geographical problems. It makes it more difficult to investigate and prosecute.

“A lot of investigations involve countries across the world and it can be even more difficult.

“If you do all the things advised to prevent yourself from becoming a victim and you become a victim banks have to look at it more sympathetically. If you are neglectful they might look at it in a different light.”

Typical scams include emails purporting to be from a bank or building society asking the recipient to fill in their personal bank details.

The email appears very official and people are directed to a webpage that looks similar to the real bank's website.

The exact contents of the scam email varies, but all have the same general theme, which is that your account details or password needs updating and you need to visit this webpage to change it.

Once you follow the instructions, the fraudsters obtain your account details.

“More and more people have access to the internet,” said Mr Rawlings.

“We are following a national trend towards crime related to the internet and computers because that's where the offenders are moving.

“For us it's about preventative work. It's relying on people who use those facilities to be vigilant and not give out personal details.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

Top tips to avoid becoming a victim of internet crime

nIf you receive a suspicious email, do not disclose any sensitive information that might help provide access to your accounts, even if the web page appears legitimate.

No reputable organisation would ever send emails in this way and your bank should only ask for specific characters from your password - e.g. the second and fifth digit - rather than the whole thing.

nIf you do receive a suspicious email purporting to be from your bank, contact them first to check it is legitimate before replying with your personal information.

nAlways access your bank's website by typing the address in the browser address bar or by clicking on your usual bookmark.

nWhen giving your credit card details to websites, check for 'https' in the address bar of the browser, and/or the padlock symbol at the bottom left/right of the screen. This confirms it is more difficult for the information you are supplying and sending over the internet to be intercepted.

nBeware of disclosing your card's four-digit PIN number for any reason over the internet - online transactions and online banking will not request your PIN number.

nInstall personal firewall software and anti-viral programmes on your computer to deter hackers and harmful viruses and do not forget to update this software regularly.

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