Online banking fraud losses increased by 14 percent to £59.7 million last year, according to the latest figures from The UK Cards Association.

This represents an increase of £7.2 million in online banking fraud losses compared with 2008 (£52.5 million).

According to the report from The UK Cards Association, the rise was mainly due to criminals targeting online banking customers’ PCs by using malware, rather than the bank’s own systems, which are more difficult to attack.

A total 51,161 phishing incidents were also recorded during 2009, a 16 percent increase on the number seen in 2008 (43,991).

The association also collated statistics on phone banking fraud losses for the first time in 2009, and found that these totalled £12.1 million. It said most of these losses involved customers being duped into disclosing their security details through fake emails or cold calling.

Despite these increased losses, total fraud losses on UK cards fell by 28 percent last year to £440.3 million, a decrease of £170 million compared with 2008. This is the first decrease recorded since 2006.

The association attributed the fall to a number of initiatives, including the success of chip and PIN cards, which has helped fraud on lost and stolen cards reach its lowest level for two decades.

Also, retailers and banks are using more fraud screening detection tools and online fraud prevention tools, such as MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa, which make cards more secure when people are shopping online. This led to phone, internet and mail order fraud losses falling 19 percent from £328.4 million in 2008 to £266.4 million in 2009.

Sarah Blaney, card fraud expert card insurance company CPP, said: "CPP’s own figures show that card fraud remains a huge problem. Our recent annual Card Fraud Index showed that over a quarter of cardholders had fallen victim at least once, with a third of these being targeted online. And worryingly, over a third of these had no idea how their details fell into the hands of fraudsters.

However, she added: "The use of online fraud prevention solutions that make card purchases more secure like Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode are making a big contribution to reducing fraud."