PHILIPPINE BUSINESS GROUPS on Sunday said the impact of cybercrime could hit $6 trillion this year and up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, as the use of online platforms for financial transactions continues to grow.

The shift to online platforms “gave rise to heightened activity by cybercriminals,” the business groups said in an e-mailed joint statement.

“As reported by Cybersecurity Ventures, the impact of cybercrime is expected to reach $6 trillion in 2021 and rise to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025,” they said.

At least 25 groups, including the Bankers Association of the Philippines, American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Canadian Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, and the Chamber of Thrift Banks, signed the joint statement.

Citing data from the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group, the groups said there were 869 online scams recorded from March to September last year, 37% higher than the 633 incidents recorded in the same period in 2019.

They said the number is expected to rise further.

“Phishing, smishing, vishing and other online fraud schemes target bank clients, credit card holders, e-wallet accounts, online shopping and other users of online financial services,” they said.

They noted such incidents happen because users often ignore or forget firms’ notices and warnings.

“We strongly urge the public to heed these notices and warnings not only for their sake but also to preserve the stability and trust in our financial system, which are so essential for our journey towards economic recovery and normalcy,” they said.

A massive information drive is needed to help strengthen the financial system’s defenses against cybercriminals, they added.

“It is also paramount that law enforcement agencies act swiftly in identifying, apprehending, and bringing these culprits to justice. We call upon the public and private sectors to join forces in this fight against cybercrimes in the financial system.”

Internet security firm Kaspersky has said new cyberattack strategies are expected to emerge this year.

It also noted that Filipino internet users who encountered online credit card skimmers increased by 20% last year. — Arjay L. Balinbin