Estimating the costs of consumer-facing cybercrime: A tailored instrument and representative data for six EU countries

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While cybercrime has existed for many years and is still reported to be a growing problem, reliable estimates of the economic impacts are rare. We develop a survey instrument tailored to measure the costs of consumer-facing cybercrime systematically, by aggregating different cost factors into direct losses and expenses for protection measures. We use our instrument to collect representative primary data on the prevalence of seven different types of consumer-facing cybercrime in six European countries. Our results show that cybercrime rather causes losses of time than money and that the losses of victims are dwarfed by the expenses for preventive protection. We identify scams to be the worst type of cybercrime in terms of losses. While identity thefts associated with financial accounts cause high initial losses for the victims, most of them receive substantial compensation. We find that loss distributions are skewed to the left, bearing the risk of overestimating costs when looking at figures summarized by the arithmetic mean.