More than 13,000 people reported falling victim to cyber-crime in the latter part of the year, as hackers target email and social media accounts
Financial losses due to cyber-crime rocketed by nearly one-quarter to £34.6 million in the second half of last year, police have said.
The figures for April to September of 2018 were 24 percent higher than for the first half of the year.
More than one-third of the cyber-crimes reported to police were due to email or social media accounts having been hacked.
Action Fraud said 13,357 people in the UK reported cyber-crimes during the period.
More than 5,000 of the crimes resulted from email or social media hacks, costing targets £14.8m.
Police said email and social media were being targeted in order to gain access to individuals’ personal details, putting them at risk of identity theft.
“Cyber-crime is a growing trend with the total losses increasing by 24 percent,” said Commander Karen Baxter of City of London Police.
“To avoid falling victim, it’s important that people keep a strong, separate password for their email accounts.”
She advised users to keep software up-to-date and to be suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal or financial information.
Users shouldn’t follow links provided in unsolicited texts of emails, but should contact organisations directly via a trusted email or phone number, Baxter said.
TV Licence fraud
Action Fraud is the reporting centre for scams in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Earlier this month the organisation disclosed a round of scams targeting TV Licence payers that led to 5,000 complaints over a three-month period.
Emails requesting users to correct their licensing information led to a website that appeared authentic, and asked for payment details.
In December alone, some 200 people reported losing £233,455 to the TV Licence scammers.
Banks say they cannot reimburse individuals who are tricked into authorising payments.