A person in the UK is a victim of cyber crime every seven seconds, as 420,000 fake emails are sent every hour.

A quarter of Brits polled by CPP admitted to falling victim to cyber criminals, with the average victim losing over £285 each. The most commonly seen was fake banking emails, with 55 per cent of those targeted receiving seemingly legitimate e-correspondence from high street banks. Over half received false lottery or competition prize draws, while a further one in two was targeted by foreign cons such as '419' scams.

Also one fifth of Brits have received phoney Facebook messages claiming to be from friends or family, one in ten fear that fraudsters are using Twitter to follow them and a third are concerned their social networking account could be hacked.

Commenting on the report, Nicole Sanders, identity fraud expert at CPP, said: “It seems that not a day goes by without a new case of online fraud hitting the headlines. But what's concerning is that consumers are still falling victim. Fraudsters are becoming ever more skilled in their techniques and tactics.

“It can be extremely difficult to spot a legitimate email from a scam, so we advise caution at all times when online. And as social networking sites become increasingly popular, people need to continue to be mindful of what they post. Their identity is as valuable to a thief as a credit card, so protecting personal details is key.”

Former hacker Robert Schifreen said that staying safe online is easy if you follow basic precautions such as not typing your credit card number, password or any other confidential information into a website unless its address begins with https and your browser displays the ‘closed padlock' symbol.

“Also, make sure your anti-virus software subscription is up-to-date and that your computer is configured to automatically download protective software,” he said.