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Online scams snatch £7 billion

10 November 2011 - 11:08 by Graham Miller

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A new study suggests that efforts to improve the availability of safe shopping online are not progressing as quickly as some had hoped.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee, has found that while web fraud is typically tackled by local law enforcement, the regional and international nature of the scams can make it very difficult for consumers to get the protection that they need.

According to the Metro, there are fears that plans to scrap watchdog organisation, Consumer Focus and reduce the resources available to the OFT (Office of Fair Trading), could deepen the problems of e-commerce fraud.

Report spokesperson, Margaret Hodge, said that around £7 billion is being taken from UK consumers each year as a result of cybercriminals.

Many different scams are operated online, from the selling of faulty or knock-off goods, to the stealing of shopper's cash via checkout systems on spurious sites. However, experts believe that consumers are simply not able to access the kind of protection that they should expect from the government.

An annual spend of around £34 million is not seen as enough to combat the issue of this multi billion pound underground industry, according to Lady Hodge.

Squeezed local authority budgets are thought to have the potential to exacerbate the situation over the next three years.

Sadly, it seems that the government is actually unsure of just how much money it would actually need to beef up online security, take down scam sites and target those criminals responsible for propagating internet fraud.

Of course consumers can help protect themselves to a significant degree, if they use their common sense, avoid unverified sites offering prices or products that are too good to be true and stick to mainstream online retailers to carry out their safe shopping online.