With e-commerce booming, the government and police must take the associated multi-million pound criminal threat more seriously, says the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
In a report, the BRC estimate that the total cost of 'e-crime' to retailers in 2011-12 was at least £205.4 million. Of this, £77.3 million came from actual fraud losses and the rest related issues such as prevention costs and missing out on legitimate business.
The most expensive type of e-crime for retailers was personal identification-related frauds, which cost £20 million in losses. Card fraud is in second place, with £15 million losses to retailers while refund frauds were responsible for £1.2 million.
The BRC says that, although it is harder to quantify the related losses, phishing is also a major problem for merchants, with UK brands the second most targeted in the world, after the US.
The UK has the biggest Internet spend per-capita of any nation and 11% of global online retail sales but the BRC warns that if e-commerce is to fulfil its potential in boosting the economy, government and law enforcers need to take e-crime more seriously.
Currently, there is little confidence in the state among retailers, with 60% of those surveyed by the BRC saying that it is unlikely they would report any more than 10% of e-crimes to police.
To change this, the organisation is calling for consistency on reporting, recording and investigating e-crime across the country and more police resources.
Stephen Robertson, director general, BRC, says: "Online retailing has the potential for huge future commercial expansion but Government and police need to take e-crime more seriously if the sector is to maximise its contribution to national economic growth. Retailers are investing significantly to protect customers and reduce the costs of e-crime but law makers and enforcers need to show a similarly strong commitment."
Earlier this year, the EC outlined plans to create a European cybercrime centre to help protect the continent's citizens and businesses from a threat that is thought to claim one million victims around the world every day.