Photo - Ola Jo Tandre, Head of Social Responsibility at Telenor Group.
According to a new survey released by mobile communications operator Telenor Group, Malaysia is the most vulnerable to Internet scams among the markets surveyed.
Speaking of the Internet Scams study, Ola Jo Tandre, head of Social Responsibility at Telenor Group (which includes Malaysia-based telco Digi), said that the top three Internet scams designed to acquire consumers' personal information in Malaysia are:
- The 'work from home' fraud (30 percent);
- Internet auction scams (22 percent); and
- Online dating scams (20 percent).
Tandre said that "of all the regions surveyed, Malaysia was the country most vulnerable to internet scams, with 46 percent of respondents saying they had been victims to scams-followed only by Thailand at 43 percent".
The study found that 1-in-5 people have been victims to both internet auction scams and online dating scams, and a 1-in-10 had their Facebook hacked, he said.
A further 46 percent of Malaysian respondents saying they know a friend or family member who has been scammed online, Tandre added.
The multi-market survey assessed 400 internet users aged 18 - 65+ in Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand.
Tandre said that in Malaysia, all of those surveyed classified themselves as internet users, averaging nearly 10 hours per day on the web.
However, online safety was a growing concern with more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) stating they are 'very concerned' with online scams-more than those equally concerned with mugging (45 percent) and stalking (42 percent), he said.
Speaking of the top three online scams, Tandre said the largest percentage of Malaysian scam victims have fallen for the 'Work from home' fraud - a scam where users are either fooled into paying someone online to help them start a business, or undertake work but never receive payment.
Almost a quarter have experienced internet auction fraud, where they purchase an item online and never receive it. And finally, Malaysians were also victims of online dating scams, where a scammer creates a fake profile on an online dating site to elicit money.
Of those who have been subject to an online scam in Malaysia, 6-in-10 have lost money, with the average financial loss per person equivalent to RM7,050 (US$1700). However, in comparison to other surveyed nations, the loss was much smaller than its neighbouring countries. The regional average for those who incurred financial loss is equivalent to RM41,870 (US$9900).
Tandre said that despite the survey findings, Malaysians continue to recognise the benefits of having the internet readily available with 90 percent of Malaysian netizens agreeing that the internet has improved their lives and 81 percent attribute strengthened relationships with friends and family to the net.
"This survey is a good barometer on internet scams in Malaysia, and areas that should be addressed. We hope the findings from this digital consumer study will encourage all Malaysians to be proactive in educating themselves to stay safe online, so they can enjoy the internet's opportunities," he said.
Too good to be true
Tandre said the survey showed the top five ways Malaysians can avoid online scams.
He said almost "three quarters of Malaysians felt that it is the individuals' own responsibility to ensure they are safe online."
The top five most used methods in Malaysia to help prevent personal risk to online scams are:
1. Delete suspicious and untrustworthy emails.
2. Ignore advertisements that appear "too good to be true."
3. Update your anti-malware software.
4. Do online research about scams.
5. Share knowledge and preventative tips with friends and family through social media.
"Malaysia and other parts of Asia are dynamic regions with growing online populations," added Tandre. "Alongside Telenor's Internet for All strategy and the 2017 goal of achieving 200 million active internet users, there will be many more people online in the near future. We encourage our netizens to be aware of potential threats and to openly talk with friends and family about online welfare. In the digital world, we must not forget our real world principles, such as, 'if something looks too good, it probably is'."
Telenor Group, which has almost 200 million subscribers, operates across 13 countries in Europe and Asia with 33,000 employees.
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