The UK payments industry body APACS says that fraud committed overseas using UK consumers' cards has fallen for the fourth year in a row.

While fraud committed abroad on UK cards has fallen for the fourth consecutive year to GBP82.8 million in 2005, down from a high of GBP138.4 million in 2001, APACS advises UK holidaymakers not to be complacent when using their cards overseas and to keep an eye on their card at all times.

APACS statistics show that last year Britons spent GBP20.8 billion abroad on UK-issued cards – GBP20.4 billion on credit and debit cards for meals and holiday presents, both for ourselves and friends, while GBP343 million of cash was taken out of overseas cash machines.

More and more each year our cards rank alongside passports and suncream as holiday essentials, says Sandra Quinn, director of communications at APACS. After all, we spent nearly GBP21 billion abroad last year, and this figure is set to increase in 2006.

While industry initiatives, such as chip and PIN, have made the life of the international card thief more difficult, we must still follow a few simple rules to make sure we are protected when on holiday. Simple things like using a concealed money belt to hide our cards and checking our statements carefully on our return can make all the difference, she cautions.