Representative Example: Representative 1286.98% APR on a loan of £300.00 with 5 monthly repayments of £101.03 Total amount repayable £505.13 Annual interest rate (fixed) 290%

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems - For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk

This article is not intended to contain information about, or advertise, products offered by us but is intended to contain information, give opinions or discuss generally available products/services.

Author: Internal Customer Services Agent

UKs cyber-crime hotspots

Given our continued use of the internet and its resources it is little wonder that cyber-crime is becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Many consumers use the internet to handle the vast majority of their purchases, manage their banking requirements and of course, socialise with people from all over the world. The increase in popularity of the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social networking sites means that our information in a general sense, is much more readily available than ever before. This is before any consideration is given to the likes of Amazon, Ebay, Spook or any other of the vast number of purchasing based sites which all offer an online account service. All of these online accounts continue to collect a variety of our personal based information ranging from our name, home address and of course bank account information. Although of course security is paramount for such sites, like all of the other online shopping facilities in existence, for cyber criminals obtaining this information is an art and one which they continue to aim to perfect. It would seem that although cyber-crime in a general sense is on the increase, there are evidently areas of the country who are more ‘prone’ to this particular form of crime. Today we will be discussing these areas in more detail in an effort to understand where in the country extra care needs to be taken to avoid this particular form of crime.

A recent investigation by Intelligent Environment has found that more than a quarter of Londoners have fallen victim to a form of cyber-crime in the last year, in fact a rather alarming 27% in total. This means that those affected have experienced either having their identity, money or bank information stolen. With these figures it is no surprise that London is the top hotspot for cyber-crime, with Norwich coming in second as a result of this research. On a national scale 1 in 5 of us reported a form of cyber-crime which only further demonstrates the impact which is being felt by consumers entrusting the internet with personal details. In fact, nationwide all major cities are accounting for worryingly high percentages of cyber-crime, with Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester all claiming 21% each for the highest proportion of cyber-crime. With these statistics in mind 47% of us nationally have expressed a concern for our details being stolen, whether that be our identities or money via the means of cyber-crime.

So what can we do as consumers to ensure we are doing our bit to keep our personal information safe and protected as cyber-crime continues to increase. In fact there are a number of simple ways we can actively protect our information and in doing so gain some peace of mind that extra measures have been taken. One of the quickest ways to safe guard your personal information in a general sense would be to set all social networks to the highest level of privacy. This means accessing the security settings within the applications individually and then stopping general information being made publicly available. Take for example Facebook which offers a number of different ways to ensure any information you store with them is completely private or only accessible to your accepted friends. The same applies for Instagram, which although is a photo sharing application, cyber thieves use a number of ways to ‘build’ a picture of who you are and then use your information on a collective basis and therefore extra security measures apply here also. This means setting your account to ‘Private’ where you intend of sharing specific details of your life.

As consumers we should also being pro-active rather than reactive in our approach to potential cyber-crime and this means being selective in our choice of trusted sites for providing our personal information to. This is especially true for Smart Phone applications and their source. It would be advisable to trust only the applications which are available from the device suppliers store directly and not those which are available to download from the wider web. This means allowing only applications which are available from Apple’s App Store or Androids Play store, giving peace of mind that the app selected has been pre-approved and tested. The same applies to emails received supposedly from known sources regarding requests to supply personal information. In the vast majority of cases all major online based companies will not request personal information to be provided or verified by means of an email, given the ease in which fraudulent emails can be produced and sent by cyber criminals. Equally the same applies for calling known suppliers, as a result of an email received, as consumers we should be mindful that the source and the number provided may not be genuine and therefore call only known numbers to investigate further and not those provided in email communication.