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Falling victim to bank, credit card or other account fraud by third party hijackers is a big worry for many people. And new figures from CIFAS, the UK's Fraud Prevention Service, reveal that this type of fraud is on the rise.

Between January and April 2012, account takeover jumped by a massive 82% compared with the same four months last year. The hijacking of plastic card accounts (usually credit cards) has nearly doubled since the first four months of 2011 - totalling more than 40% of all account takeover frauds.

Moreover, as the internet plays an ever more central role in our lives, it seems fraudsters are using it as their most favoured channel. 71% of all account takeover crimes in the first four months this year were committed online - compared with 54% between January and April 2011.

Fraudsters can target banking customers' accounts through a number of ways - from one-off hijacks allowing the criminal to pay for goods to the complete emptying of a bank account.

Richard Hurley, CIFAS Communications Manager, commented: "Whether it is by computer hacking, social engineering through popular websites, interception of postal details or poor security awareness of individuals, fraudsters who hijack an account can only so do with the right information. This type of fraud increased by 18% in 2011, so to see such a staggering increase in 2012 so far is a real cause for concern."

A spokesperson for thinkmoney commented: "Bank account fraud is a real concern. But the goods news is there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to fraudsters. Regularly changing your password, making sure any passwords you use are 'strong' and ensuring you have up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus software on your computer could all help to protect you.

"Anyone wanting to find out more can read thinkmoney's guide to being safe online."

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