Card cloning thieves target Brit holidaymakers in top summer holiday destinations like Benidorm and Florida

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HOLIDAYMAKERS are being warned about the dangers of card cloning in top summer holiday destinations as Brits are targeted by thieves.

Card fraud is the most popular type of scam, accounting for 56 per cent of all fraud.

Business owner Katie Owens
Katie lost £2,000 when she was shopping on holiday in Miami

Last year card fraud losses on UK-issued cards amounted to £671.4 million, of which £174.6 million was stolen abroad.

And two of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits in 2018, Spain and the USA, are both in the top five worst counties in the world for card fraud, according to a new report by KIS Finance.

Business owner Katie Owen had her bank account was emptied and was hit with overdraft fees when thieves struck.

The 42-year-old who runs wide fit shoe company Sargasso & Grey is one of five million people in the UK who become victims of card and bank fraud each year.

She believes her card was cloned while shopping in a Miami mall.

“I went to a shopping mall and I bought some trainers and a gift for my niece.

“Everything seemed fine and normal and I had no suspicions. However, about a week after I returned home, I noticed that £1,000 had been taken from my account that I didn’t authorise. Soon after, another £1,000 was taken,” says Katie, who lives in West London.

“When I think of it now, I recall a shop assistant taking my card below the counter in one of the shops – so maybe they swiped my card on a machine with a skimming device that stole my details,” she adds.

Fortunately her bank were helpful and refunded the money within two weeks and dropped the overdraft charges.

How to protect your card from fraudsters overseas

This is how you can protect yourself from being scammed abroad

Before you go:

  • Only take one card away with you and leave the rest at home in a secure place.
  • Add your bank’s telephone number to your phone so you have it on hand if you need to cancel your card or report it stolen.
  • Consider getting a pre-paid travel card which can be spent like a debit or credit card without being linked to your bank account.
  • Tell your bank where you are going and how long for and set a daily withdrawal limit which means the card will be blocked once the limit is reached.

Whilst you’re away:

  • Try to pay for your expenses in cash – especially in shops, bars and restaurants.
  • Use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay in countries that accept contactless payments.
  • If you need to withdraw cash, use an ATM machine inside a bank as they are less likely to have been tampered with than an ATM on the street.
  • If you’re travelling with a partner, carry one card each instead of one person carrying both. This way, if a wallet or purse is stolen, you won’t end up losing both cards.

But it did leave her without any cash for several weeks and she is now far more wary of using her current account card abroad.

“I check my bank statements a lot more now and I try not to let my card out of my sight. I am much more alert now and I take prepaid cards with me on holiday as they are not linked to your bank account so only the money held on the card can be stolen and no more.”

Unfortunately Katie’s experience is all too common as criminals working as employees in shops and restaurants in tourist hotspots steal card information via small skimming devices.

They then use the card details to counterfeit a card to withdraw cash or use the information to buy goods online.

Anna Butterworth, 32, from West London, had her card cloned whilst on holiday with friends in Bali last year.

Anna was on holiday in Bali when her card was cloned

“We are always very careful with our cards when we go away and usually use cash, but on our last night we went to a very nice and expensive restaurant which was attached to the hotel we were staying in.

When it came to payment, I handed my card over and they took it away before coming back with the card machine.

At the time we were so busy having fun that we didn’t think about it – I would never normally let them take my card away,” says Anna, who runs a marketing agency.

Six months later when Anna was back in the UK she checked her bank statement and noticed a cash withdrawal of £700 made in Bali.

Her bank paid the money straight back but now Anna makes sure she never hands her bank card over.

“I am also very careful of cash machines and only every use ones which are attached to banks. This can be tricky when travelling away from major cities, but I try to be organised about it. I also use Monzo occasionally and if I did another big trip, I would probably use a pre-paid travel card.”


At the start of this month London was found to be the UK’s scams capital.

Meanwhile earlier this year it was announced that new rules would mean banks must refund all fraud victims.

Brits were also warned in May over taxi scam in Paris.

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