THE growing threat posed by sophisticated cyber criminals has been highlighted by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon.

Angus Macpherson has issued a warning to consumers and the owners of small and medium businesses that they need to be vigilant to reduce the chance of becoming victims.

Mr Macpherson has also made clear that Wiltshire Police cannot tackle cyber crime alone because many fraudsters operate from Internet cafes in distant countries.

He was speaking as the Home Office launched its £4m Cyber Streetwise campaign which is designed to educate small businesses and consumers on how to avoid falling victim to the online thieves.

The Government estimates the total loss through fraud in England and Wales runs into tens of billions of pounds. The Home Office has set up, an online portal which is intended to give insights and guidance to the owners of enterprises and consumers.

Mr Macpherson said: “Unfortunately cyber crime is the big growth area in crime, so I very much welcome this Home Office initiative.”

Consumers are urged to: Use strong memorable passwords, install anti-virus software on new devices, check privacy settings on social media, shop safely online – always check online retail sites are secure and download software and application patches when prompted.