A record 2.9 million people in Japan have been directed through phishing emails to fake websites created to steal sensitive information in the first half of this year, according to a report by a major internet security firm.

The report by Trend Micro Inc. released Monday said such fraudulent attempts are increasingly aimed at stealing accounts used for shopping, communication and other services with major firms such as Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Rakuten Inc. and Line Corp.

(Screen shot of a fake website)
[Photo courtesy of Trend Micro]

Trend Micro has kept records of how many times it shut down its product users' access to fake websites since 2014. The previous record was 1.36 million in the second half of that year.

The figure had been hovering around 1 million since but suddenly rose by 2.7 times in the January-June period this year compared with the second half of last year, according to the company.

It also reported 27 cases of massive attacks using phishing emails and said website links in 13 of these cases tried to make users enter credit card information and enable personal accounts to be taken over.

Such accounts are often tied to personal information and can be used in many services.

"If people receive emails that call for entering credit card or account information, they should check once again to make sure if they are authentic," said Katsuyuki Okamoto of Trend Micro.