Credit and debit cards are an extremely safe way to pay. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be a victim of fraud, you are protected.

Look after your cards and keep your PIN safe. It is essential that you do not give your PIN to anyone and that you do not write down or record your PIN.

If your card is lost or stolen

Lost or stolen cards should always be reported to your card company in the first instance.

Delivery of your card and PIN

The banking industry works closely with Royal Mail (and other organisations it uses to deliver its cards), to monitor card losses, identify fraud hot spots and take preventative action. Card companies use secure couriers to deliver to high-risk postcodes, or cards may be sent to your branch for collection. You may also be required to phone your card company to activate your card before it can be used.

You should:

  • pay attention to card expiry dates. If your replacement card hasn’t arrived, call your card company to check the status of your new card.
  • ensure you are the only person that knows your PIN. Banks or the police will never contact you in order to ask you to disclose it; anyone who does ask you for your PIN is probably a fraudster.
  • check statements regularly and carefully. If you find an unfamiliar transaction, contact your card company immediately.
  • be extra careful if you live in a property where other people have access to your mail such as a block of flats. In some cases your card company may arrange for you to collect your cards from a local branch.
  • contact the Royal Mail Customer Enquiry Line on 03457 740 740 if you suspect your mail is being stolen. Check if a mail redirect has been put in place without your knowledge.
  • tell your bank, card issuer and other organisations, such as utility suppliers, immediately if you move home. Ask Royal Mail to put a redirect in place from your old address to your new one for at least a year.

Using your card at a cash machine

Cash machines are generally very safe, however they do sometimes attract criminal attention so you still need to follow common sense precautions when withdrawing cash.

To minimise the chances of having your card or card details stolen at a cash machine:

  • stand close to the cash machine. Always shield the keypad with your free hand and your body to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN. This will protect your PIN from anyone who might be looking over your shoulder, and also help to keep your PIN safe if a fraudster has set up a hidden camera that is filming the keypad.
  • be alert and put your personal safety first. If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.
  • fraudsters sometimes fit devices to cash machines that trap your card, which they then retrieve as soon as you have left the area. If your card is retained by the machine for any reason, report it to your card company immediately, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine. Make sure you have your card company’s 24 hour contact number stored in your mobile phone.
  • if you spot anything unusual about the cash machine, or there are signs of tampering, do not use it. Report it to the bank concerned immediately.
  • once you have completed a transaction put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine. Destroy or preferably shred your cash machine receipts, mini-statements or balance enquiries when you dispose of them.

It is also a good idea to follow this advice when using self service machines, such as when buying tickets or at petrol forecourts.

Using your contactless card

There’s been a huge rise in the use of contactless cards in the UK. One in four card payments are now contactless.

Contactless payments are fast, easy and secure. Although contactless transactions don’t require a PIN, from time-to-time you will be prompted to insert your card into the Chip & PIN reader and enter your PIN. This security check is in place to protect you from fraud and your card company restricts how much your card can be used before you will need to provide a PIN.

There is a £30 limit on contactless transactions. For transactions over £30 you will need to use Chip & PIN in the usual way, i.e. enter your PIN at the terminal.

Always take reasonable steps to keep your PIN and any security information secure, and if your card is lost or stolen report it to your card company as quickly as possible.

Using your card overseas

Being a victim of theft, fraud or not being able to use your cards is a huge inconvenience, especially if you are abroad. However, following some simple, common sense precautions before, during and after your trip overseas can help minimise your chances of having any difficulties.

Make sure your card company has your up-to-date contact details, including a mobile number. If your card company detects unusual spending patterns on your card they may try to contact you to check that the transactions are genuine – they could block your card from being used until they can get in touch with you.

Similarly, it is advisable to have your card company’s 24-hour telephone number with you, in case you need to contact them because of any difficulties.

These, and other simple tips can help ensure your time overseas is hassle-free.

Before you go overseas

  • only take cards that you intend to use; leave others in a secure place at home.
  • make sure you have your card company’s 24-hour contact telephone number. The number will be on the back of your card, your card statement or on their website.
  • make sure your card company has up-to-date contact details for you, including a mobile number.
  • if your cards are registered with a card protection agency, ensure you have their contact number and your policy number with you.

When you are overseas

  • don’t let your card out of your sight, especially when making purchases in restaurants and bars.
  • don’t give your PIN to anyone – even if they claim to be from the police or your card company.
  • shield your PIN with your free hand when typing it into a keypad in a shop or at a cash machine.

When you get back

  • check your card statements carefully for unfamiliar transactions.
  • if there are any, report them to your card company as soon as possible.

Using your card at major events

Millions of people go to sporting and entertainment events and the vast majority are able to use their banking services safely and securely when travelling, but there are sometimes exceptions.

These top tips will help you stay safe.

You should:

  • be as careful as you are at home when using your card and cash.
  • make sure you have the relevant telephone numbers and dialling codes to contact your bank or card issuers if you have any problems with accessing your money while you are travelling.
  • look after your belongings at all times – especially your passports, wallet, purse, visas, bank account details, tickets and hotel booking information.
  • ensure you can trust a vendor or website before disclosing your card details. Take Five before you buy. If you’re using a retailer for the first time, always take time to research them before you give them any of your details. Be prepared to ask questions before buying. Check that the locked padlock or unbroken key symbol is showing in your browser and that the website that you are visiting has ‘https’ at the beginning.
  • be aware of other people around you when withdrawing cash. If anyone close to the cash machine is behaving suspiciously or makes you feel uncomfortable, always look for another machine. Report any security concerns that you have to the police and bank concerned.
  • check your bank account balance as regularly as possible to make sure that you are aware of any funds that have been withdrawn from your account without your authorisation.

If you are considering booking accommodation or renting a home when attending a major event it is important that you take some prudent steps to protect you and your family from being potentially vulnerable, misled or exploited by criminal scams.

The safest way to protect yourself from booking bogus accommodation is to:

  • book directly with an established hotel or through a reputable travel company.
  • if using a travel company or agent ensure they are a member of a trade body such as ABTA or ATOL.
  • if you decide to book independently you should exercise caution. Establish if you are dealing directly with the property owner or a letting agent or via the local tourist information desk.
  • research the property or hotel that you are booking. Verify that the address exists through web searches and online maps. Do the images match those on the advert? Check whether there are any reviews for the accommodation from previous visitors.
  • if dealing with the property owner ask them about the property and the area in detail. Can you confirm that what they tell you is accurate from your own research? Consider using Google Street maps to confirm the property description.
  • research any agent that you are dealing with via an online search engine. Are there any reviews of the website or agent? Ask what checks the agent makes on the properties that they are advertising and its owner. Does the website use the padlock symbol to indicate the site is secure?
  • when paying for accommodation, avoid paying by cash, money transfer agent or wire transfer. Paying by credit or debit card provides additional consumer protection.
  • always check the terms and conditions to confirm exactly what you are being sold. Double check your booking before travel, particularly if there is a long gap between making the booking and arrival.
  • be aware that fraudulent adverts do exist. If you have any doubts don’t book it.

If you become a victim of payment fraud in the first instance report any financial losses to your bank.

You can also report fraud to