Online banking fraud losses totalled £39 million during the six months to June 2009 - a 55% rise on the £25.2 million in losses incurred during the same period last year.
The figures were released by Financial Fraud Action UK, the UK industry body charged with fighting fraud. It says the increase is largely due to criminals employing more sophisticated methods to target online banking customers through malware scams. There were also more than 26,000 phishing incidents during January to June 2009 - a 26% increase on the amount seen in the same period last year.
There was better news on plastic card fraud, where total losses dipped by 23% to £232.8m in first half of 2009. Losses attributed to counterfeit cards almost halved to £46.3 million from £88.8 million a year earlier, while card not present fraud experienced its first ever decline from £163.9 million in H1 2008 to £134 million this year.
Katy Worobec, head of fraud control at FFAUK, says: "Although it's difficult to prove, we think that one of the reasons for this dip in card losses may simply be as a result of fraudsters realising that they can prosper more by targeting foreign-issued cards - particularly those without chip and PIN protection and which currently have stronger currencies than sterling. The fact that we've seen a 36 % increase in the first half of this year in the amount of fraud being committed on foreign issued cards here in the UK adds some weight to this theory."
She adds that the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) - the special police unit sponsored by the banking industry to stamp out organised card and cheque fraud across the UK - has also played a part, saving some £12.8 million from attempted frauds in the first half of the year.
Ohter factors include the use of Chip and PIN technology on the high street and a more vigorous promotion of Visa and MasterCard security protocols for online shopping, says Worobec.
Richard Martin, business security consultant, FFAUK, speaks with Finextra about the 55% spike here.