Bank phishing profits up by 14 per cent

Online banking losses rose last year by 14%, according to the UK Cards Association, although overall losses card fraud fell.

Fraudsters are targeting individuals rather than banks these days, now that banks have shored up their defences.

Phishing is the new black, it seems. Five years ago there were just 1,700 reported phishing attacks in the UK.This year the Cards Association got wind of some 51,000 - 16% up on 2008.

Poor banks may have lost almost £60 million in 2009 online thanks to phishermen. Losses in 2008 totalled £52.5 million.

"Fraudsters are now relying on the weakest link in the chain, and that is online banking customers themselves," a UK Cards Association spokesman said.

But overall plastic card fraud fell by more than a quarter to a hefty £440 million compared to 2008.

Phone banking losses totalled £12.1 million, mainly because folk give away their details to fraudsters on the phone. Card-not-present fraud accounted for £266 million losses.

"Tackling card fraud is like a roller-coaster with plenty of peaks and troughs," the UK Cards Association said in a statement. "Whatever system we put in place we know criminals won't give up and go and get legitimate jobs. They are always going to target our cards."