3.7 billion phishing emails were sent in the last 12 months

25% of Brits have been victims of scams

Cybercriminals sent 3.7 billion phishing emails over the last year, in a bid to steal money from unsuspecting web users, says CPP.

Research by the life assistance company revealed that 55 percent of phishing scams are fake bank emails, which try and dupe web users into giving hackers their credit card number and online banking passwords.

Hoax lottery and competition prize draws and 'Nigerian 419' scams that involve email requests for money from supposedly rich individuals in countries such as Nigeria, were also among the most popular phishing emails.

Furthermore a quarter of Brits admitted to falling for the scams, losing on average £285.

Online banking fraud has surged by 132 percent during the last year. The report also highlighted that 46 percent of web users worry their credit card details will be used to make illegal online purchases.

CPP also revealed social networking scams are on the rise. Nearly one fifth of Brits have received phoney Facebook messages claiming to be from friends or family in the past year.

One in 10 fear that fraudsters are using Twitter to follow them, while a third are concerned their social networking account could be hacked.

"It seems that not a day goes by without a new case of online fraud hitting the headlines. But what's concerning is that consumers are still falling victim," said Nicole Sanders, an identity fraud expert at CPP.

"Fraudsters are becoming ever more skilled in their techniques and tactics. It can be extremely difficult to spot a legitimate email from a scam, so we advise caution at all times when online."

Sanders also said web users should be mindful of what they post on social networks.

"Their identity is as valuable to a thief as a credit card, so protecting personal details is key."

CPP advises web users to concerned about online fraud to keep their personal information safe and think twice about giving the details to someone that ask for them.

Banks will never ask for your personal information online, CPP said.

According to Steve Furnell, senior IEEE member and head of the Centre for Security, Communications and Network Research at the University of Plymouth, the increasing skill of the fraudsters and other online attackers is effectively raising the bar for what the average user needs to know in order to remain protected.

"Knowing that users tend to rely upon antivirus and internet Security packages, malware writers now seek to block this software from downloading the latest updates," said Furnell.

"So, while users may see that their package is running and assume all is well, the protection may actually be outdated and therefore not working as effectively as promised."

Furnell said in order to avoid this happening, users should make periodic manual checks to ensure that their antivirus has downloaded recent signatures.

"Similarly, while the advice to guard against fraud by looking for https and the padlock icon is perfectly sound in web context, this doesn't prevent people from falling victim in other contexts (e.g. responding to a direct request via email)," he added.

"Consequently, web users need to develop broader skills; to consider the nature and importance of the information they're being asked for, the likely legitimacy of the request and its source, and whether there are any avenues they can use to check before responding."

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Carrie-Ann Skinner

PC Advisor (UK)
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