Keylogging software and other forms of computer malware have been blamed after an official report revealed a massive increase in online fraud.

Online banking fraud increased to £52.5m last year, a huge jump from £22.6m in 2007, said UK payments association Apacs.

Total fraud losses on UK debit and credit cards rose by 14% to £609m.

The increase has been blamed largely on the increased sophistication of various forms of spyware and keylogging software which captures information stored and entered into a computer, particularly when entering sensitive details such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Under UK’s Banking Code, customers are not liable for any fraudulent activity on their account unless the bank can prove a customer acted “without reasonable care”. However, a technicality in the code could see such a clause could apply to any customer who does not have antivirus software installed on a PC on which they make financial transactions.

“The industry continues to remind customers to ensure that they have their computer’s firewall switched on and anti-virus software up to date,” said an Apacs spokeswoman.

UK Credit card fraud in general has been falling in recent years following the introduction of a Chip & Pin system, which has seen a customer PIN number replacing the signature system, although those figures have also risen in the past year

As in previous years, the biggest area of card fraud was with goods bought over the internet, phone or by mail order – where chip-and-pin was not used. Fraud levels in these instances rose 13% to £328m.

The most significant rise in 2008 was when criminals took over other people’s accounts, known as card ID theft, with losses up by 39% to £47.4m.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to our top stories.

If you want to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, please submit the form below.