Holiday makers are being warned to protect their personal possessions as a 17 per cent increase in lost and stolen cards abroad in the past year is revealed.

The annual ‘Card Loss Index' from life assistance company CPP showed that Spain and France have topped the list for debit and credit cards being snatched or misplaced for the second year running, with UK holidaymakers in Spain losing twice as many cards as other nationalities.

Over a quarter of Brits admit to being more concerned about card fraud abroad this year than last year. One in six don't trust cash machines on holiday, and nearly one fifth are so concerned that they avoid using cards altogether and rely solely on cash when on vacation.

Despite the looming threat of card crime, vacationers admitted to a lax attitude to security when holidaying abroad. Over one in ten (12 per cent) leave their bags unattended on their sun-lounger, while one in eight (13 per cent) have allowed waiters to take their bank cards out of their sight. A further one in ten admits to hiding their cards in their room rather than using hotel safes.

The company also revealed that losing cards in America, Canada and Australia can be particularly worrying as those countries do not yet have Chip and PIN.

Sarah Blaney, card fraud expert from CPP, said: “When travellers jet off to catch some sun and relax they still need to look after their wallets and purses exactly the same as they do in the UK.

“Losing your cards abroad can be a very stressful experience as often you don't speak the language and don't know what to do. If you go on holiday try to be vigilant as criminals see tourists as easy victims.”