Consumers are leaving themselves open to online fraud, with half a million people admitting they would fall victim to scams such as phishing, a report has revealed.

People are still unaware of basic security measures when banking online, the research from APACS, the UK payments association, showed.

Some 3.8 percent of the 15.7 million people who regularly use the Internet to access their current, savings and credit card accounts said they would respond to an unsolicited e mail, supposedly from their bank, asking them to follow a link and re enter personal security details unwittingly giving fraudsters access to their money.

Although the figure was slightly down from 4 percent in 2004, only half of those surveyed this year said they ignore these phishing e mails, compared to 65 percent in 2004.

The number of phishing attacks has soared more than 800 percent in the past year, and hit a record figure of 1,484 last month.

The study also showed that Internet users were complacent when it came to passwords and anti virus software.

Almost two thirds of people never change their password, one in five uses the same password for non financial Web sites as their online bank and just over a third record their password or security information by writing it down or storing it on their computer.

Less than half (46.3 percent) regularly update their anti virus software, and only one in 10 people has installed anti spam software.

Sandra Quinn, director of corporate communications at APACS, expected consumers' failure to play safe online to lead to an increase in online banking fraud losses.

Some people still aren't doing all they should to protect themselves which, hand in hand with a large increase in phishing e mail attacks at the start of the year, leads us to expect an increase in online banking fraud losses in the first half of 2006, she said.

Online banking losses hit 23.2 million pounds last year, with card fraud losses amounting to 219.4 million pounds in the first six months of the year. Internet fraud accounted for a quarter of this.

Quinn added: Clearly, it's a concern that so many Internet users are still not aware of simple security advice.

Everyone needs to do all they can to make life as hard as possible for fraudsters.

The Internet has totally changed the way we shop and bank, and it's very safe provided you remember two simple rules: use a secure PC and be wary of unsolicited e mails.

For further information on protecting yourself from online fraud go to or