Online theft has risen 44 percent in a year, according to the UK payments association Apacs. The Apacs figures show online banking fraud increased from £23.2m ($44m) in 2005 to £33.5m last year.

But losses from payment card fraud fell slightly, from £439.4m in 2005 to £428m in 2006, with a much sharper 47 percent fall in card fraud losses at UK retailers - showing the continuing impact of chip-and-PIN technology.

Fraud in cases where the actual card isn't presented has risen, with losses up by 16 percent, and now accounts for nearly half all card fraud losses. To put total fraud losses further into context, however, losses as a percentage of plastic card turnover equated to 0.095 percent in 2006 - significantly less than the 0.141 percent figure in 2004.

'Returning goods bought online is a pain'

Apacs attributed an increase in card fraud committed abroad to the growing phenomenon of counterfeiting cards by copying their magnetic stripe. Such cards can be used in countries that have not adopted chip-and-pin technology.

Sandra Quinn, communications director at Apacs, said: "These figures clearly show that there is no 'one size fits all' approach to dealing with fraud. Chip and pin has had a hugely positive effect on fraud losses over the counter in UK shops and stores, but we are seeing more fraud on transactions that do not use chip and pin - such as over the internet and phone, by mail order and abroad in countries that have not yet fully upgraded to chip and pin."

She added: "Fighting fraud is never going to succeed with a single-layered approach. It requires different sectors - including public and private - to work together on developing and implementing strategies, sharing best practice and, most importantly, sharing data."

She called for government intervention "to remove the current barriers" to data sharing and welcomed measures to allow this in the Serious Crime Bill.

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