One-third of small businesses don’t report online crime because they feel there is little point, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
The FSB recently polled 1,823 members on their experience and views of online crimes, such as fraud, hacking and viruses. On average, said the FSB, each member lost £800 last year to the crime, though nine respondents said they’d lost £50,000 or more.
More than half of businesses – 54% – reported being a victim of crime in the past 12 months – 37% having problems with phishing e-mails, 15% falling victim to credit or debit card fraud and 15% suffering IT problems caused by viruses and hackers.
The FSB’s report, Inhibiting Enterprise: Fraud and Online Crime Against Small Businesses, found that one third of small firms do not report fraud or online crime to the police or their banks because of a lack of faith in the system.
Meanwhile, 53% said they needed clearer information about how and where to report this type of crime, while 44% wanted a named contact in their local police force who focused on fraud and online crime.
And 85% of businesses in Scotland and England said they would report fraud if a designated reporting centre were set up to gather data and use it to fight the crime and follow through with prosecutions. Wales already has a reporting centre.
The FSB called for:
- A central, well advertised and accessible method of reporting fraud and e-crime, which they can trust to understand the issue and to take proper follow up action.
- The Police Central E-crime Unit and the National Fraud Strategic Authority, which aim to launch the National Fraud Reporting Centre later this year, to work together closely to ensure that the centre is established soon and fulfils these criteria.
- A local police contact to specialise in fraud and e-crime with small businesses.
Banks to take responsibility for informing businesses up front about the risks of ‘card not present’ (when bogus card details are used in phone-based transactions) fraud.
FSB home affairs chairman Mike Cherry said: “The internet is a huge and unregulated area but businesses have to have confidence that there are at least some structures there to support them. It is important that the Met Police e-crime unit and the National Fraud Reporting Centre work hand-in-hand to set up an effective system to gather intelligence and use it to investigate and prosecute when this crime occurs. Businesses are currently simply being left very exposed.”