Around half of Brits are leaving themselves wide open to credit card and bank account fraud due to slack security practices, according to a survey conducted by UK consumer association Which? Money.
Which? says about half of the 4,119 people surveyed admit to using the same PIN number for more than one card. This contrasts with research from price comparison Web site Moneysupermarket last month which found that only a quarter of cardholders use the same PIN number for all their credit and debit cards.
According to the study, around one in two customers don't check that a Web site is secure before shopping online or used their mother's maiden name as a password. One in seven even admit to writing down PINs and passwords.
However, some people are taking some precautions, with most of those questioned hiding their PIN from potential 'shoulder surfers' at cash machines, checking their statements for rogue transactions and ripping up or shredding documents.
A third of those surveyed by Which? said money had been fraudulently taken from their credit card or bank account. However the "vast majority" got all the stolen money back. The consumer group says this seems to suggest that ID theft insurance is "unnecessary for most people".
"By taking a few basic precautions, people can significantly reduce the risk of fraud - without buying unnecessary insurance," says Martyn Hocking, money editor, Which?
The advice from Which? comes as police in Ireland investigate a card fraud incident which saw the theft of around EUR1 million from 300 bank accounts.
According to local press reports, criminals paid shop and restaurant workers up to EUR10,000 to skim cards and obtain PIN numbers through shoulder surfing.
The criminals used the information to clone cards before withdrawing cash in countries across Europe, including Italy, Romania and Spain, between the end of April and beginning of May.
UK payments association Apacs released figures in March showing industry losses from plastic card fraud jumped by 25% to £535.2 million last year, driven by a hefty 77% rise in fraud committed on UK cards abroad.