Is The Digital Age Making Us More Dishonest?

Is The Digital Age Making Us More Dishonest?

As we propel into the digital era, virtual communication is becoming just as commonplace as face-to-face interactions. How many friends have you Whatsapped today? Tweeted? Shared an Instagram post with? Now count the number of people you’ve spoken to in person. Scary, right? 

And it’s not just our conversations that have become digitalised. Human beings are being replaced by artificially intelligent robots capable of performing tasks in half the time. Take Amazon Robotics, supplanting human ‘pickers’ in warehouses, or ePassport gates at airport border control. But whilst this undoubtedly provides us with more efficient services, it means we’re talking to people less and less in our daily lives, which can have an impact on our psychology, even affecting our sense of morality. 

Fraud in ecommerce

Let’s take supermarkets as an example. Self-service checkouts have led to a huge increase in shoplifting, with shoppers either unwittingly or deliberately mis-scanning items. Psychologists believe that the unsupervised and impersonal nature of the transaction is one of the core reasons behind people’s willingness to shoplift. When a crime feels victimless, it’s easier to commit. So ironically, supermarkets’ plans to be more efficient have led to them losing out on profit. The solution? Humanise the robot. Plans are now underway to replace talking screens with robots with faces programmed to greet customers by name, with the aim of increasing shoppers’ honesty by providing them with a more personal experience. 

Some other surprising techniques being trialled at the moment include pictures of eyes by the checkout area. This creates the sensation of being watched and seemingly encourages more socially acceptable behaviour. A study in 2011 found that people contributed 2.76 times more money to an honesty box in the UK when it had eyes on it rather than flowers. Similarly, cardboard cut-outs of security figures were enough to reduce bicycle theft by 67% from a subway in Boston. 

The study of behavioural economics, how humans adapt their behaviour and make economic decisions, is a field which has grown recently. The UK government even established its own Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), a social purpose company working to drive change both at home and overseas. Early work looked at improving tax returns through minor changes to the wording in reminder letters, resulting in an extra £200m more collected on time. Small, seemingly insignificant tweaks to an email, or a few seconds added to a phone call, if properly implemented can have a powerful impact on even some of our biggest societal challenges. 

But as technology becomes more advanced, groups such as these really have their work cut out. The internet has allowed for the rapid expansion of a virtual space filled with impersonal interactions, and cybercrime is on the rise. Is there a correlation between the two? 

remote purchase jpeg

Remote purchase fraud, or Card Not Present (CNP) fraud, where card details rather than the physical card are stolen to buy something over the internet, phone or through mail order, is now the most common form of fraud. Gone are the days of having to steal a physical card or painstakingly make a counterfeit one. It is now possible to steal from an individual without taking their physical assets or coming into contact with them at all, which is perhaps easier for a thief’s guilty conscience to digest…

Internet, or e-commerce fraud is increasing at alarming speed, with 12.3 million Brits having been victims of online fraud. That’s more than 18% of people. Data from UK Finance shows that in 2018, £393.4M was lost in 2018 from fraud on UK cards, up from £153.2M in 2009. 

card fraud losses jpeg

Top Tips To Protect Yourself From Being A Victim Of Online Fraud:

If you’re using a retailer for the first time, always make time to research them before you give them any of your details. Be prepared to ask questions before making a payment. 

  • Trust your gut. We hate to break it to you, but if an offer looks too good to be true… then it probably is. 
  • Take the time to install the built-in security measures most browsers offer for extra protection.
  • Don’t be in that 18%. Rebel against hackers with Curve, the cutting edge of fintech technology. Curve is designed to let you manage multiple Mastercard and Visa bank cards and credit cards on one stylish card and smart app, without compromising your security. It’s really easy, get yourself a Curve Card and download the free Curve app, in-built with advanced encryption technology. Your purchases are encrypted at both ends, meaning we never reveal your card details to any retailer. Your Curve Card acts as a firewall to your other bank cards. 

Whilst psychological techniques to deter online hackers and fraudsters would require international cooperation and could take years to implement effectively, we’ve got your back right now.