With a rise in online shopping and banking as a result of the coronavirus pandemic Brits continue to be targeted for their financial details.

But as lockdown restrictions begin to ease, UK adults are set to spend more time outside of their homes than they have done for months.

With card cloning on the rise, it’s important to know how to protect your plastic and, more importantly, your hard-earned money. You might think you are safe when using an ATM or online shopping – but it only takes a minute to clone a card.

To help you keep your finances safe, Libby James, co-founder of Merchant Advice Service, has laid out seven top ways towards safeguarding your cards and your cash:

Use a credit card where you can

Since credit cards have legal fraud protections in place for consumers that do not exist with debit cards, they are often a safer bet. For instance, if you are splashing the cash on a high-value online purchase or handing your card over in a bar to start a tab, go with your credit card for enhanced liability protections.

Sign on the back of the card

It sounds simple, but many people forget to sign the back of their cards when they arrive, shiny and new in the post.

By just remembering to sign the back of your card, you are verifying it belongs to you and taking an important step to protect yourself from fraud.

Invest in a card-guard

Card guards are another effective solution that are easy to use and affordable too. Simply place your card-guard in your wallet, purse or cardholder to secure the personal information of all your cards.

This can make the world of difference when traveling or commuting through a public place to make you feel safe and secure and ensure that no one can attempt to use your card, or clone your card, while it’s tucked away on your person.  

Don’t share your pin

This may sound simple but NEVER share your PIN number with anyone. Quite often people use memorable numbers, such as their birthday or address, both of which are fairly easy to crack or guess.

Randomise your PIN and change it frequently (which you can now do via most banking apps).

Check an ATM before you use it

Always check an ATM before you use it for signs of tampering. This may not seem obvious at first, but look out for odd-looking card slots, such as the key-pad being raised or any other features that do not seem right.

Make sure to give the ATM a ‘once over’. Another thing that you can do is to be sure to cover the keypad whilst you’re typing in your pin number, thus preventing any hidden cameras from stealing your details.

Don’t store your card information on your phone

Although it seems tempting to store your card information on your phone, such as your 16-digit number, expiry date and 3-digit security code, so that you can make online purchases when you’re maybe not in the same room as your purse or wallet, please resist.

Even having a note on your phone containing all your passwords and pin numbers is a bad idea.

Locked or not, you’re making yourself vulnerable. Another tip would be to untick the box that asks you to store your card information when online shopping.

Although it’s laborious entering your card information every time you shop, you are saving your skin and protecting your plastic.

Set up a two-step authentication for online transactions

Setting up a two-step authentication on your mobile phone takes two minutes and is well worth it.

This means when you are completing a purchase online, your bank will send you an OTP (one time password) to your phone to verify it is indeed you attempting to make the transaction.

This is an additional layer of security to ensure you are in control of your cards and purchases.