Swiss are easy prey for online scammers, warns report

European statistics reveal that on average Swiss residents are less active than other Europeans on social media but are more affected by the misuse of personal data. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Swiss citizens fall victim to online scams more readily than other Europeans, especially via social networks, a new survey reveals. 

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Last year, 4% of the Swiss population (total 8.5 million) reported having been a victim of online credit card fraud during the previous 12 months. A similar percentage claimed to have lost documents after being infected by a computer virus.  

These figures are above the European average of 3% for both cases, according to a Federal Statistics Office (FSO) report on Tuesday. 

The most serious threats affecting Swiss online users are email and social media accounts being hacked, cyberbullying, ID theft and credit card fraud, FSO reported. 

The high figures are partly explained by the number of people online in Switzerland last year – 93 % of under-55s. Internet users are also spending more time online: two-thirds of the population log on for over five hours a week. 

+ The spiking phenomenon of cybercrime in Switzerland

The FSO said the frequency of cybercrime incidents reported in Switzerland was comparable with the levels observed in Denmark, where internet use was similar.  

In general, the more frequently people use their phones and computers to make online purchases, the more likely it is that people fall victim to fraud, the FSO said. 

Credit card fraud figures were highest for residents in Britain (7% of the population), Denmark (6%), France (5%) and Norway (4%), while Portugal, Germany and Ireland were the lowest, according to Eurostat. 

The European statistics reveal that on average Swiss residents are less active than other Europeans on social media but are more affected by the misuse of personal data. 

Security problems such as online identity theft, the hacking of e-mail accounts or social networks and harassment based on the misuse of personal information affect 3%, 6% and 4% of the Swiss population, respectively, higher than the European average (1%, 2% and 1%). 

According to the FSO, these figures could be explained by weaker online protection in Switzerland. In 2014, almost three-quarters of Swiss internet users reported using protection software. In just five years, this proportion has fallen to two-thirds. 

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