Twelve percent of British internet users fell victim to online fraud last year, with around half of them losing out while shopping according to new research.

Some 2,441 survey respondents to the Internet Safety: The State of the Nation paper reported an average £875 loss in 2006.

Backed by government and industry, the Get Safe Online campaign‘s report said that meant fraud hit a total of 3.5m internet users.

Around 6% of all users were defrauded during online shopping sessions, 5% by other methods and 4% had their bank accounts compromised after their details were exposed online.

Awareness of basic security measures is one thing being blamed – around 17% of respondents had no antivirus software, and 22% no firewall.

Cabinet Office minister Pat McFadden said:

“We need users to take the same basic precautions in using the internet as they would when making transactions in the high street – such as not sharing your bank details or passwords.

“This survey shows that, although the internet offers great opportunities for people to carry out their business when and how they like, people must also take care if we are to stop criminals abusing greater popular use of the net.”

Let’s do the maths…

  • 12% of 29m (internet users) is around 3.5m.
  • 3.5m multiplied by the average loss of £875 is more than £3bn.
  • Fraud in the UK amounts to about £20bn a year, or roughly 1.5% of GDP. 
  • So online fraud is about 15% of total fraud in the UK, according to these figures.