Alabama residents who fell victim to online scams have lost more money on average over the past year when compared to Americans in the remaining 49 states, according to a new study by VPNPro.
VPN experts conducted the study by using FBI data tracking total monetary losses experienced due to cybercrime. That total was then scaled against the number of victims in each state to determine the areas with the highest impacts.
Alabama ranked in the top spot for highest losses per person over the last 12 months, tallying an average of about $50,600 lost per victim, which is significantly higher than the national average of $18,300.
The study showed 4,893 people in Alabama reported being victims of cybercrime over the past year.
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The second state most impacted by online scams was New York, which reported a total of 25,112 cybercrime incidents in the past year and an average loss of $30,900 per victim.
Massachusetts was third with an average of $28,900 lost per victim and South Dakota was close behind in fourth place with an average loss of $28,400.
On a more positive note, Vermont was listed as the safest state for online shoppers with 707 reported cybercrime incidents over 12 months and an average loss of $5,900 per victim.
Indiana landed in second place with only $6,300 lost on average, despite reporting 11,600 cybercrime complaints. West Virginia rounded out the top three safest online shopping states with an average of $9,800 lost per victim.
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VPNPro said the risk of being targeted by cybercriminals is much higher during the holiday season and urged those participating in online shopping, especially for Black Friday, to stay vigilant as scams can come in multiple forms.
According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, which revealed a 127% increase in online scams since 2018, over 300,000 complaints nationwide stem from phishing attacks, which is where scammers attempt to obtain personal information – sometimes for identity theft, financial fraud or unauthorized access to systems or accounts.
Other online scams include extortion, personal data breach, non-payment/non-delivery and tech support crimes.
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VPNPro cybersecurity expert Šarūnas Karbauskas explained most scams can be avoided by being aware of the warning signs, such as typos in a brand’s name or email, deals that are too good to be true, suspicious pop-up ads and questionable email senders.
“Using a reliable anti-virus can help keep yourself protected against malware, and it is also good to practice skeptical thinking when asked for money. Always be cautious of unsolicited emails or phone calls and verify the legitimacy of the sender wherever possible,” Karbauskas said.