UK banks have reported a 55 percent increase in losses from fraudulent online transactions for the first half of the year, mostly from phishing scams.

Losses totaled £22.5 million, up from £14.5 million from the first six months of 2005, according to the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS).

The loss figure isn't broken down by individual financial institutions, although APACS' 31 members, which include HSBC and Barclays, account for about 97 percent of bank and credit-card transactions within the UK.

The figures underscore continuing problems with phishing, where criminals try to capture financial details through fraudulent emails and sophisticated fake banking websites. Account numbers, log-ins and passwords are often then sold online to other fraudsters who try to turn them into profit.

More than half of consumers who shop online don't verify that e-commerce sites are using a secure connection, APACS said. In the UK, some 26.5 million people undertook an estimated 372 million online transactions in 2005, it said.

But there is some good news. Phone, mail order and Internet fraud only increased by five percent overall - markedly slower than the 29 percent jump between the first half of 2004 and the first half of 2005.