The digital age has brought huge benefits to Britain, but new and different challenges too. Our ability as individuals to use digital technology – find and share information, do our shopping, pay our bills and communicate with one another – has grown more quickly than our knowledge of how to do all those things safely.
Just as cars were invented before seatbelts, today this has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by fraudsters and threatens to undermine the huge advantages that come from living in a digital age.
New research which we have published shows a quarter of people in Britain say they have experienced a fraud or scam in the past three years, which means every one of us knows someone who has felt the horror of being duped.
These 5.6 million fraud and cyber offences now make up half of all recorded crime each year and cost the UK £11bn a year. Criminal fraudsters and scammers are destroying people’s lives and we need to join forces to disrupt their every move and bring them to justice.
Businesses invest billions of pounds in building strong digital defences to keep your money and information safe from cyber criminals. Yet fraudsters and scammers also target individuals to try and trick us into either paying money into to the wrong account, or to hand over our own personal data or bank details to be used for criminal gain.
It goes without saying that you wouldn’t hand over your personal information – let alone your money – to a stranger in the street. But in the online world, too many people do the virtual equivalent of just that.
Our research has found that, contrary to what you might assume, young people in urban areas – and London in particular – are twice as likely to be the victims of fraud as older people. Your age and geography are more likely to determine your risk level than your education, income or occupation.
Even more alarming is that a fifth of people who are victims of fraud take no action afterwards to boost their digital defences, and just 17 per cent of people can correctly identify fake social media messages designed to catch them out.
When you scale up the losses of these crimes to us all as individuals, I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue and that government, law enforcement, business and the public need to work together to defeat these criminals.
It may sound like there isn’t anything that we can do, as individuals, to help fight this crime but there is. We can all take some basic steps to boost our digital safety level. And we want to help you take them.
I am pledging that Barclays will use the full weight of its resources to help fight and prevent these crimes.
We are already invested in defending against the cyber threat and are committed to keeping people’s money safe from criminals, but we now need to go further to help people boost your individual defences too.
We need to make digital safety as commonplace as locking the front door, or putting on a seatbelt. We all need to stop and think about the moments in our day-to-day lives which could leave us exposed to risk and what defences we might need to build to stay safe.
That’s why I am launching a major Digital Safety public engagement campaign. Over the course of the year, we will shine a light on these crimes, give people information and tools and get people talking to their friends, families and colleagues about how to stay safe.
Our new online Digital Safety Quiz asks ten quick questions which can help you find out your own individual digital safety score, along with tips on how you can boost your own defences.
The digital age has brought huge benefits. I want everyone to enjoy them safely, and I want the UK to be the most digitally empowered nation on earth.
But we can only be truly digital empowered if we are truly digitally safe.
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