Surrey Neighbourhood Watch – Simple Guidelines For Protecting Yourself from Online Fraud

Dear Surrey resident

You will no doubt be aware that there has been a considerable increase in fraud due to many of us having to do more business online with so many shops closed during lockdown. This type of fraud is usually given the term ‘cybercrime’ and covers a wide number of threats to our well-being and finances. Surrey Police and the government issue many Alerts to the public warning us about new scams or the increase of existing ones. Please continue to heed these. In 2020 it was estimated that cybercrime cost the people of Surrey a total of £91m. The figures for the whole of the UK are enormous as they include large corporate crime. The estimated loss to the British economy is £27b – that’s billions, not millions.

But there is much we, as individuals, can do to prevent ourselves being the victim of crime.
With so many buzzwords flying about – ‘cookies’, ‘phishing’ (pronounced fishing), VPN and so on, it can be very confusing to know what to do.
The UK Neighbourhood Watch organisation have set up “Cyberwatch” to concentrate on this type of crime and are issuing guides for the public to educate them on simple, and usually free, things to do to reduce the risks.
Below are links to 2 guides – understanding the basic terminology, and how to protect family members when they are online.

It’s not just online fraud though. There are instances of people receiving phone calls from the police (typically NOT Surrey Police) saying they have arrested someone who had your details on them. A very useful tip is to immediately ask them their name, “collar number” and extension. Ring off. Call 101 and ask to be put through to the officer quoting the name, number and extension given. If genuine, the 101 desk will happily put you through. But in many cases they will not recognise the name or collar number and so you have prevented a potential fraud.

Keep safe and well
Martin Stilwell
Chair, Surrey Neighbourhood Watch Assoc.