Identity theft has become one of the most feared crimes in the UK, according to a study of more than 1,400 regular internet users, outranking burglary, assault and robbery.
Around one in three respondents to the survey indicated that they had been the victim of some form of cyber-theft, including phishing emails, credit card fraud and unauthorised bank transfers.
The research, commissioned by internet security software maker AVG, revealed that individual financial loss ranged from a few pounds to several thousand pounds.
Some 90 per cent of respondents had threat protection software installed on their PCs, but a third remained unconvinced that these were adequate measures to protect them from cyber-crime.
Liverpool topped the list of UK cities most afraid of cyber-theft with 93 per cent highlighting their concern. Brighton proved the most blasé, although 79 per cent placed it high on their worry list.
Despite these concerns the survey also revealed that financial transactions over the internet continue to increase. More than 85 per cent of regular internet users buy goods online and more than two thirds do their banking online.
"While the risks of theft over the internet are real, it is important to keep it in perspective," said Larry Bridwell, global security strategist at AVG.
"There are a number of things you can do to cut down the risks. These range from having internet security installed and regularly updated on your computer, to using industry recognised internet payment systems and checking for the padlock symbol on the screen."
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