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Online ID Fraud Claims One in 10 Australian Victims

VeriSign® Online Fraud Barometer Reveals $1.286 Billion Lost to Online Identity Theft in the Past Twelve Months

Sydney, Australia, 6 July 2010, Exposing the financial harm that online identity (ID) fraud can cause average Australians, the VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer released today shows that one in 10 Australians that use the Internet (13,710,000 people) have lost an average of $1,000 to criminals and fraudster in the past twelve months.

The VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer, compiled by Galaxy Research, shows that the financial loss over the past twelve months totals a massive $1.286 billion and that $200 million is yet to be recovered by individuals who have fallen victim to online ID fraud. Fraudulent emails and websites are the most likely source of this identity theft with 60 percent of Australians coming across one of these in the past twelve months.

"The cost of online ID fraud in Australia really hits home when we consider that these are everyday Australians whose hard earned cash disappears into thin air when online criminals steal important personal and account details," said Jim Drake, General Manager for Asia Pacific, VeriSign.

The VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer is an assessment of the online fraud landscape, measuring Australians' vulnerability to and experience of online ID fraud. Similar research has been carried out overseas with results in the United Kingdom showing a comparable number of online ID fraud victims.

The results also revealed that complacency plays a major part in online ID fraud with 69 percent of 18-24 year old Australians admitting to not checking for enhanced security every time they provide sensitive information such as banking and credit card details.

Most alarming was the figure in the VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer that revealed only half of online ID fraud victims check for enhanced security, despite already being stung by these scams. Failure to identify enhanced security measures such as a padlock icon, green bar or the VeriSign tick can lead to a higher incidence of online ID fraud.

Those most affected by online ID fraud include 18-24 year olds and South Australian residents with these groups averaging losses of $1,619 and $1,511 respectively in the past twelve months. Australians who responded to a fraudulent email or website also paid dearly with an average financial loss of $1,185 per person.

In the most serious cases of online ID fraud during the past twelve months, one in 10 Australian victims expect to never recover their lost money with this sentiment strongest amongst 18-24 year olds and low income earners (earn less than $40,000 per annum).

"There are many factors at play when criminals strike online and Australians may not realise they have been duped until months later when their credit card statement arrives," added Drake. "The best way for Australians to stay safe online is to make sure they're always checking for enhanced security when submitting personal information."

The following groups lead the nation as the most 'cyber savvy' Internet users;

  • 50+ Australians with 45 percent of this group always checking for enhanced security before inputting any personal details
  • Internet users in Queensland represent the most cautious state with 43 percent keeping an eye out for online safeguards
  • Higher income earners (those that earn between $70,000 and $90,000 per annum) are also vigilant online with 39 percent always checking for enhanced security

The results of the VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer highlight an increased need for education and awareness of the potential financial damage of online ID fraud. Additionally, industry experts have called for a greater onus to be placed on financial institutions and other major online organisations to provide greater visibility of enhanced security measures so Australians can perform all their online activities with confidence.

"The results of the VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer show that Australians are more vulnerable than they think and that too many Internet users have fallen victim to criminals online," says Alastair MacGibbon, founder of the Internet Safety Institute. "It's a fact that Internet users respond well when websites tell them about enhanced security measures they're employing but we have a lot of educating still to do."

"It's in the best interest of organisations that have a major online presence to give Australians the confidence that they have implemented enhanced security methods. We are seeing ever increasing levels of sophisticated online scams and fraudsters so online organisations need to be continually vigilant to safeguard their users' important personal and financial information" added Drake.

To find out more about how to avoid online ID fraud, visit https://www.trustthetick.com.

The VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer was conducted by Galaxy Research during June 2010 and included responses from 2,510 Australians nationally, aged 18 years and over.

@Symantec