Last year, an estimated 2.5 million people in the Netherlands said they had fallen victim to cybercrime. It concerns identity theft, online shopping fraud, hacking and cyberbullying. Over one-quarter (27 percent) of these crimes were reported to the police or other institutions, a lower share than in 2012 when 31 percent of all cases were reported. This decline is entirely due to a lower number of reported cases at other institutions. Identity theft at banks and other financial institutions in particular was reported less often. The number of online shopping fraud cases reported to consumer organisations also declined.
Willingness to report to the police did remain the same: only 8 percent of all cybercrime cases were officially reported to the police in 2016. The share of official police reports filed online increased slightly.
Youth and higher educated people most affected
More than one in ten Dutch residents aged 15 years or older indicated they were a victim of cybercrime in 2016. Young people, who are the most active Internet users, fall victim more frequently than older people. However, this varies per type of cybercrime. In the case of cyberbullying, 15 to 24-year-olds are by far the most frequently affected age group, while identity theft is least common in this age group. Online shopping fraud as well as hacking occur almost equally often among the age groups 15 to 24 years and 25 to 44 years. These crimes as well as cyberbullying occur least frequently among the over-65s.
Cybercrime victim rates also vary depending on educational level. The higher educated, who are relatively most active on the Internet, are affected more frequently than the lower educated with 13 and 8 percent respectively. Higher educated people are more likely the victim of identity theft, online shopping fraud as well as hacking. Only in the case of cyberbullying there is no difference between educational levels.
Urban and rural residents equally often cybercrime victims
City dwellers are nearly twice as likely to fall victim to traditional crime as rural inhabitants, but there is no significant difference in terms of cybercrime. In 2016, 11 percent of the population in (very) highly urbanised municipalities claimed they had been cybercrime victims, versus 10 percent of the population in less or not urbanised municipalities. There are very few differences between rates for each separate crime type, including identity theft, online shopping fraud, hacking and cyberbullying. An explanation may be that cybercrime occurs online and is therefore independent of location, as opposed to traditional crime.
The Safety Monitor is an annual population survey on safety perceptions and crime victim rates. In the 2016 survey, more than 80 thousand Dutch residents aged 15 years or older were asked if they had been victims of cybercrime and, if so, how often. Victims were also asked if they had reported this. The survey focussed on the crimes identity theft, online shopping fraud, hacking and cyberbullying.