Nearly half of all UK adults - 21 million people - will do their Christmas shopping on the Internet this year, according to industry body Card Watch, which is warning customers to protect their credit card details from fraudsters.
Citing figures from the UK's Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs)Card Watch says 10% of all credit card spending is now being made online.
The industry watchdog is recommending that cyber shoppers protect their card details by signing up to online payment security schemes - such as Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode - which require cardholders to enter a password when purchasing goods via the Internet.
Card Watch says most Internet card fraud occurs when cards or card details are stolen in the real world and then used by criminals to buy something online. According to Apacs, cardholder-not-present fraud (CNP) is now the biggest fraud type, increasing by six per cent last year to £116.4 million.
Katy Worobec, head of risk management at Apacs, says cardholders can minimise their chances of suffering from online fraud this Christmas by registering for the authentication schemes.
"By participating, they can add to the combined fight against online fraud and shop online with safety," says Worobec.
Cardwatch also recommends that customers keep their PCs safe by using up-to-date anti-virus software and a personal firewall and only shop at secure Web sites featuring a legitimate security icon. Shoppers should also keep a record of all online purchases and check statements for any suspicious transactions.