The City of London Police have revealed that cyber-crime victims were swindled out of £34.6 million between April and September 2018.

This loss is an increase of 24% from the previous six-month period.

The new statistics are based on the 13,357 cyber crime reports that were made to Action Fraud between April and September 2018.

The statistics also show that for 5,225 reports, hacking of social media and email accounts was the primary reason for people reporting cyber-crime to Action Fraud. These victims are believed to have lost a total of £14.8 million.

Commander Karen Baxter, from the City of London Police, which is the national lead force for fraud, said: “Cyber-crime is a growing trend. In particular criminals are targeting social media users and online account holders in a bid to make money and steal personal details. This leaves victims out of pocket and at risk of identity theft.”

People have been urged to always install the latest software and app updates on their phone and computers as they contain vital security updates. This helps protect them from viruses and hackers.

Commander Baxter added: “To avoid falling victim, it’s important that people keep a strong, separate password for their email accounts. They should also use the latest software and app updates. Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information and never call numbers or follow links provided in unsolicited texts or emails; contact the company directly using a verified and trusted email or phone number.”

James Wyman, financial adviser at Hitchin-based Lyndhurst Financial Management, said: “In this post GDPR world that we live in I have found the topics of data protection and cyber-crime are being raised more often during meetings. Many of my clients are of retirement age or above, which means the majority are not very tech savvy. As such I explain to them how any personal information will be requested and discussed between ourselves and the steps which are taken to protect the information from cyber-criminals as well as what they can do to better protect themselves.

“To prevent consumers from losing out there are a few tips – don’t have the same password for all of your logins. Use 2 way authentication on your emails to significantly reduce the risk of them being accessed by criminals. If you receive an email out the blue check the address it came from to make sure it is a legitimate message from the company. Don’t click links in unsolicited emails, instead visit websites via a web search. If in doubt call the company on a number found on their website.”

Aamina Zafar is one of the UK’s leading financial journalists. She has previously worked as a senior reporter at FT’s Financial Adviser. The award-winning journalist writes regularly on the IFA community, mortgages, pensions and financial regulation.

Further reading on this topic:

FCA warns asset management industry is facing cyber risks