The UK is losing more than £375 million on average per day to fraud. That’s a shocking figure for any country, but when you break it down by the hour and minute of each day, it becomes extremely daunting and could potentially result in devastating effects on a victim’s mental well-being.
Skurio has created an interactive slider that shows how much fraud is affecting the UK, and what could be purchased with that amount instead of it being lost through fraud. It is quite remarkable to think that had it not been due to the cost of fraud, consumers could have purchased more than all of these consumer items daily:
- 136 million cups of coffee
- 62 million Netflix monthly subscriptions
- 55 million cinema tickets
- 44 million family packs of x16 toilet rolls
- 7 million full tanks of petrol
- 834 thousand Playstation 5’s
- 75 thousand round the world flight tickets
- 990 thousand smartwatches
What is fraud?
Fraud is when an imposter obtains private information through deception or trickery, with the intent to use that information for personal gain.
This can be done in a variety of ways- from creating fake profiles on social media platforms to pretending they are someone else, all the way to impersonating others by stealing credentials and hacking into accounts to obtain funds illegally.
What are the most common types of fraud?
- Business email compromise (BEC). A type of scam where hackers pose as representatives from a legitimate business to steal money or sensitive information through emails or electronic payment systems, such as PayPal.
- Healthcare insurance-related schemes. Consumers often do not realise they have been victims until it’s too late and criminals have obtained confidential health information including social security numbers which can be used for further criminal activity.
- Phishing emails. Phishing emails are sent by cybercriminals who attempt to trick unsuspecting users into giving them personal data by posing as companies trusted within their own community. These may come from a trusted source, such as the CEO of the company or even an IT department employee.
- Courier fraud. This type of scam involves criminals posing as couriers to steal valuables and items that have been left with them for safekeeping. These types of scams include package theft, fake courier deliveries or door-to-door schemes where attackers pose as energy workers needing access to your property.
- Financial investment scams. Consumers often believe they are investing in something legitimate when they send money to cybercriminals who create false opportunities promising large returns on investments which is far too good to be true. A common phrase used by scammers is ‘get rich quick’ which can quickly persuade potential victims into believing what others would not.
- Mobile phone scams. Consumers are often targeted via text messages or calls where they receive a missed call from an unknown number that leaves them feeling uneasy. These types of scammers attempt to convince victims into downloading malware onto their devices by sending unsolicited texts and then using the contact details to send further spamming materials, such as pornography or pharmaceuticals.
- Scams involving cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming more popular than ever before which makes them vulnerable targets for cybercriminals who aim to steal these funds through phishing emails and other malicious techniques.
How can fraud affect mental health?
Fraud can have an extremely negative impact on mental health, because of the stress involved with being a victim.
The massive amount of data breaches that are occurring all over the world has increased anxiety levels in consumers because they feel vulnerable and out of control when it comes to their personal information.
Even without becoming victims of fraudulent activities, exposure to news events about identity theft or large scale financial scams is enough for many people’s wellbeing to be affected due to feelings of vulnerability and helplessness that come along with these crimes.
Unfortunately, studies have appeared to show that there has been a correlation between people having mental issues being more susceptible to falling victim to fraudulent activity. Data has shown that 4.5 million people with mental health issues had been fraud victims from online activity, with the pandemic having escalating future risks even further since 2 million adults became fraud victims in the opening 6 months since lockdown began.
The effect of mental health from fraud is not limited to victims either, but also their loved ones. When a consumer becomes the victim of fraud they are likely to be treated with scepticism by some members of society which can cause feelings of loneliness and alienation within families or friendships when trust between parties has been broken down.
Preventing fraud: What can be done to reduce the risk?
Some precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of fraud occurring in your household, such as shredding any documents containing confidential information before disposing of them.
Cyber security is necessary when operating online and should always be used when available, for example using two-factor authentication on email accounts or shopping websites which will help prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to your data.
Keeping an eye out for fake emails that may have been sent by criminals posing as legitimate companies who request personal details would also help prevent identity theft.
These types of scams often use convincing language within their messages which makes it difficult to spot a fraudulent activity at first glance so being aware could protect you against these risks.
As technology continues advancing at a rapid rate, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest security software and data breach alerts and businesses can do this through the investment in dark web monitoring and domain monitoring solutions.
Fraud can cause serious emotional distress for consumers who have been directly affected or feel vulnerable due to their exposure to news events about identity theft and other types of scams.
To better protect yourself from being a victim, take preventative measures such as using reliable security software, regularly updating operating systems on your computer/mobile device and having strong passwords for all accounts including social media profiles.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.
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