Sussex Police is urging residents to ‘Protect Your Privates’ in a new campaign to raise awareness of cyber-crime.

International best-selling crime thriller novelist and Neighbourhood Watch Patron Peter James is fronting this eye-catching campaign.

Peter lives in Sussex and is best known for his Roy Grace titles which have sold 16 million copies worldwide as well as stand-alone titles such as The House on Cold Hill and Perfect People.

He said: “It is an incredibly difficult area to police, but I am proud to be able to support Sussex Police’s latest cyber-crime campaign. By grabbing people’s attention we can raise awareness and encourage both individuals and companies to protect their privates.”

A recent survey of people living in the South East found that 84% of those asked had experienced an ‘attempted’ cyber crime in the last year, while 15% had been victims.

Detective Inspector Andy Haslam from the Sussex Police Cyber-Crime Unit, said: “The aim of this campaign is not to scaremonger but to make everyone aware of the potential dangers we face when we go online.
“There are some very simple things we can all do to ensure we surf the web safely.”

These include:

  • Getting anti-virus software
  • Creating varied passwords and changing them regularly
  • Updating your software when prompted.

Cyber-crime can leave victims feeling embarrassed or ashamed that they have been tricked or lost money.
Last year a 79-year-old woman from Mid Sussex, who wishes to remain anonymous, was called at home by someone claiming he could get her money back on a recent online purchase: “He sounded very convincing and asked for details that gave him remote access to my laptop. He also wanted some credit card information so that the money could be paid back into my account.”
Fortunately the victim’s cards were cancelled before money could be taken.
“I did get very upset. I suffer with asthma and found it difficult to catch my breath when trying to explain what had happened to the officer. I blamed myself because I was gullible. It was a horrible experience but I won’t be taken in by a scam like this again.”

People of all ages are susceptible to cyber-crime but the Sussex and Community Crime Prevention Report highlighted 40 -79 year-olds are most at risk.

The most commonly reported issues in Sussex are:

  • The Con – a victim is called by someone pretending to be from a reputable company and then convinced to allow the fraudster remote access to their computer.
  • Ransomware attacks – pop up windows that look like they are from reputable companies ask for bank details or attempt to blackmail victims into handing over money.
  • Phishing – emails or pop up windows may entice you to click a link to find out more about a prize or discount which actually allows malicious software to be downloaded on to your computer.

You can find out more about common cyber scams and how best to ‘Protect Your Privates’ click here