Online identity theft has skyrocketed in recent years - a result of organized gangs moving to the web to commit fraud - according to new figures from McAfee.
A company white paper on identity theft found that global internet- and computer-based fraud increased by 250 percent between January 2004 and May 2006.
The report also found that the number of phishing attacks has soared in recent years. Figures gathered by the Anti-Phishing Working Group show that the number of strikes has multiplied 100-fold in the past two years.
In the United States, the cost of identity theft to the economy is $49 billion each year.
"More and more, people are carrying out transactions on the internet, and as we move online, the criminals are following us," said Greg Day, senior security analyst at McAfee. "We will probably see a saturation of phishing attacks over the next few years. But smarter hackers will move away from targeting banks and use a more subtle approach. However, identity theft is here to stay and will evolve and, possibly, get worse."