1. Keep your PINs private
Being careful with your PIN is your best defence against card fraud. This means:
Covering your hand when you're entering your PIN at a cashpoint or till
Never sharing it with anyone else, no matter how trusted they are or why they say they need it. Your bank, building society or credit card company will never, ever ask you for it.
Making it as cryptic as possible - birthdays and easy to remember sequences (1,2,3,4 for instance) are far too obvious
Setting up a different PIN for each card you have
2. Guard your cards
Being careful where you keep your credit and debit cards is really important when it comes to beating card fraud. You should:
Never let a retailer, waitress, barman or anyone else take your card out of your sight. This may mean that you have to pay for each round of drinks individually rather than setting up a tab, or go to the counter to enter your PIN if the card machine is fixed, but as far as card safety goes it's worth it
Only carry the cards you need with you and store the others in a safe place at home
Regularly check you have all your cards so none can disappear without you knowing
Keep your address details with your card companies up to date so that any new or replacement cards get delivered into your hands and not someone else's
3. Carefully check your statements
Going through your bank account and credit card statements with a fine tooth comb is the best way to spot anything untoward.
If any transactions you don't remember making are listed on your statement, query them with your bank right away. Then if someone other than you has been shopping with your card you'll be able to get it stopped and the issue investigated before more harm is done.
Read this article to find out exactly what you need to do if you think you've been scammed.
4. Be wary about where you're entering your details
Whenever you shop online there are certain things you can do to protect your card details from being captured. Stick to these rules and you'll be helping to keep your finances safe.
Only ever use computers that have full and up to date security software installed. You can find out how to kit your PC out for free by reading this article.
Take a skeptical approach to online shopping. Stick to retailers you're familiar with or follow these steps to check a company is legitimate before you share your details with them.
Check the task bar reads https:// (as opposed to just http://) and that the padlock symbol is displayed in your browser window before you enter any card or address details - this signifies that you're on a secure web page.
Be wary of using your card to buy anything over the phone, especially if the seller phoned you, as you have no way of knowing for sure whom you are talking to. Also be sure to never reveal your password or PIN over the phone.
5. Take care when you take out cash
Use an ATM that's been tampered with and you'll be handing your details over to fraudsters without a fight. That's why it's so important to pick your cashpoint carefully and check it for signs of tamper before you enter your card.
Whenever possible you should aim to use cashpoints installed inside banks or building societies, or those within clear shot of a CCTV camera
Check the cash machine for anything unusual before you enter your card
Contact your bank immediately - preferably while you're in sight of the cashpoint itself - if your card is swallowed
Cover your hand when you enter your PIN
Discretely take out your cash, put it away and ensure the session is over before you start to walk away
Don't get a receipt if you don't need one but do make sure you pick up any paperwork that's printed
Be wary of bystanders who get to close and don't turn to speak to them before your cash and your card is safely in your wallet (even if they ask if you've dropped some money)