Malaysia is the most vulnerable country to internet scams in this region

KUALA LUMPUR: An Internet Scams study shows that the top three scams in Malaysia are ‘work from home’ fraud (30%); internet auction scams; (22%) and online dating scams (20%).

The study released by Telenor Group, which Bhd is a part of, also revealed the top five ways Malaysian’s avoid scam - an important way to reduce these instances in the near future.

The multi-market survey assessed 400 internet users aged 18 – 65+ in Malaysia, India, Singapore and Thailand and was conducted to provide better understanding of the common online scamming methods.

The results additionally gathered the best prevention methods from experienced users, in order for netizens in Malaysia to gain more insight.  

In Malaysia, all of those surveyed classified themselves as internet users, averaging nearly 10 hours per day on the web. However, online safety is a growing concern with more than half of those surveyed (54%) stating they are ‘very concerned’ with online scams—more than those equally concerned with mugging (45%) and stalking (42%).

“Of the regions surveyed, Malaysia was the country most vulnerable to internet scams, with 46% of respondents saying they had been victims to scams—followed only by Thailand at 43%.

“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. A further 46% of Malaysian respondents saying they know a friend or family member who has been scammed online,” according to a statement by Telenor.

Of those who have been subject to an online scam in Malaysia, Telenor said 6-in-10 have lost money, with the average financial loss per person equivalent to RM7,050 ($1,700 US$).

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 ($9,900 US$).

Despite the figures, Malaysians continue to recognise the benefits of having the internet readily available with 90% of Malaysian netizens agreeing that the internet has improved their lives and 81% 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,” Telenor Group head of social responsibility Ola Jo Tandre said.

According to Telenor, the largest percentage of Malaysian scam victims had fallen for the ‘work from home’ fraud - a scam whereby users are either fooled into paying someone online to help them start a business, or undertake work but never receive payment.

Almost a quarter had 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.

Below are the top five most frequently used methods in Malaysia to help prevent personal risk to online scams:
• Delete suspicious and untrustworthy emails.
• Ignore advertisements that appear “too good to be true.”
• Update your anti-malware software.
• Do online research about scams.
• 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. 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’,” Ola Jo said.
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