The British government has launched a campaign to convince consumers it is safe to shop on the web, as a new survey shows nearly half of Britons are concerned about online credit card fraud.

The latest Clicking with Confidence campaign (it has been run once before) hopes to allay fears connected with e-commerce, increase awareness of internet shopping, give tips on how to ensure purchases are made safely and publicise online consumer rights.

“We discovered that though more people are shopping online now than ever, they still have concerns about issues relating to the safety of that shopping,” revealed e-commerce minister Douglas Alexander, who also stressed that consumers have the same rights on the web as they do at bricks-and-mortar retailers.

To coincide with the campaign’s launch, the Department of Trade and Industry released a survey of attitudes towards web buying, showing that 47% of respondents were worried about credit card fraud.

The DTI’s research also exposed regional differences in Britain’s e-commerce landscape – Londoners are most likely to purchase online, with 35% of respondents in the capital saying they had done so, while the Welsh are least likely, with just 14% saying they had made a web transaction.

Despite fears of fraud, Britons top the league of Europe’s e-shoppers published by Forrester Research this week. The continent’s e-tailers, says the survey, will enjoy a 160% year-on-year surge in business this Christmas to E4.1 billion, some E1.4bn (nearly 35%) of which will come from UK surfers.

News sources: BBC Online Business News (UK); Forrester Research