Posted: Mon 18th Mar 2024

£1.3m lost to email and social media scams, Action Fraud warns

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

More than 22,500 people had their social media or email accounts compromised last year, new data reveals.

According to figures from Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre, a staggering 22,530 individuals reported hacking incidents in 2023.

These attacks resulted in financial losses totalling £1.3 million.

Pauline Smith, the Head of Action Fraud, highlighted the universal vulnerability to online fraud, stating, “Anyone with a social media or email account can be a target for fraudsters or cyberattacks. It is vital to secure your accounts, as the challenge of detecting fraud escalates with global advancements in technology.”

She further advised, “Protect your information by ensuring your email and social media passwords are secure and distinct from other passwords. Implementing 2-step verification adds a critical layer of security. To prevent fraud and hacking, never share your password or any 2-step verification codes.”

In the reports made to Action Fraud, there were various different methods of hacking reported, including:

On-platform chain hacking

This is when a fraudster gains control of an account and begins to impersonate the legitimate owner. The goal is to convince people to reveal authentication codes that are sent to them via text. Many victims of this type of hacking believe it’s a friend messaging them, however the shared code was associated with their own account and the impersonator can now use it to access their account. Usually when an account is taken over, fraudsters monetise control of the account via the promotion of various fraudulent schemes, while impersonating the original account owner.

Leaked passwords and phishing

The other predominant method of hacking reported is leaked information used from data breaches, such as leaked passwords, or account details gained via phishing scams. This becomes prevalent as people often use the same password for multiple accounts, so a leaked password from one website can leave many of their online accounts vulnerable to hacking.

What can you do to avoid being a victim?

  • Use a strong and different password for your email and social media accounts. Your email and social media passwords should be strong and different from all your other passwords. Combining three random words that each mean something to you is a great way to create a password that is easy to remember but hard to crack.
  • Turn on 2-Step Verification (2SV) for your email and social media accounts. 2-Step Verification (2SV) gives you twice the protection so even if cyber criminals have your password, they can’t access your email or social media account. 2SV works by asking for more information to prove your identity. For example, getting a code sent to your phone when you sign in using a new device or change settings such as your password. You won’t be asked for this every time you check your email or social media.

If you live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, report it at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Suspicious emails should also be sent to SERS at report@phishing.gov.uk.

Find out how to protect yourself from fraud: https://stopthinkfraud.campaign.gov.uk

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