The Office of Fair Trading is funding a new project to tackle online fraud, after if was found that nearly three quarters of adults have received a scam email in the last year
The government has announced plans to step up the fight against online fraud with new funding for the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the creation of a specialist team to take on cyber criminals.
Announced this week, the formation of the new cyber enforcement team and £4.3 million of funds for the OFT will help to tackle the problems of online fraud, which impacts three million UK consumers hit by scams totaling £3.5 billion every year.
“The Internet is rapidly transforming the way we shop. It presents massive opportunities for consumers, but unfortunately it also harbours fraudsters who can leave consumers upset and out of pocket,” said consumer minister Kevin Brennan “So as they get more sophisticated, we need to stay one step ahead. Our investment will help the OFT and Trading Standards to put in place the new specialist teams, training and technology required to take the fight to these criminals.”
The government reports that 73 percent of adults have received a scam email in the past year. As well as the additional funding, the government says it has already taken some action with the creation of a laboratory with “specialist equipment”.
Heather Clayton, OFT senior director, said online consumer protection was a key priority for the agency. “The enforcement team will be looking at the activities of a wide range of commercial websites and taking action in cases where consumers’ rights are being abused,” she said. “Ultimately, giving the public even greater confidence to shop online is what drives the activities of our enforcement team”.
Late last week, researchers at Cambridge University announced they had uncovered a flaw in the Chip and PIN payment system that allows fraudsters to use stolen credit and debit cards without knowing the PIN number. The flaw can be exploited by a man-in-the-middle attack, in which the signal sent out by a shop’s card reader during a transaction is intercepted by a separate card reader in the fraudster’s bag.
Most enterprises lack visibility in their IT environments, after an analysis of data breaches by Trustwave this month found that just 9 percent of breaches were uncovered internally by the companies themselves.
Consumers who suspect they are the victim of an online scam should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.