France is the number one hotspot for credit card fraud against UK holidaymakers. Hopping across the Channel for holiday could cost more than you bargained for according to Barclaycard's annual world fraud index which reveals that France accounts for 43% of spending on stolen cards. French fraudsters also spend more on stolen cards than their counterparts in other countries, racking up an average of £279. Spain - where the average criminal spends just £25 - and the US rank in second and third places. These three countries accounted for nearly 80% of all unauthorised use of British-owned credit cards overseas in 2003, with Australia and Italy coming fourth and fifth for card fraud. Holiday hotspots As we increasingly rely on our credit and debit cards abroad, we are more vulnerable to criminals who want to abuse our flexible friends. The perpetrators are often organised gangs using sophisticated technology, the survey said. Although France comes first in terms of the total amount defrauded from UK card customers, holidaymakers run a far greater risk of having their credit cards stolen or copied when in Spain, where credit card fraud is more frequent, but involves smaller average amounts. Barclaycard has raised particular concerns about the practice of 'skimming' cards - the most common form of counterfeiting. The magnetic strip, on the back of cards, is copied - or 'skimmed' - by fraudsters, using a handheld card reader. The card can then be cloned, and is sometimes used on the other side of the world from where the card was lost or stolen. A different set of research gave this top ten of worst countries - but France is still top! 1) France 2) USA 3) Spain 4) Ireland 5) Germany 6) Switzerland 7) Italy 8 ) Holland 9) Belgium 10) Australia Barclaycard has the following tips to help you avoid card fraud abroad: *Never leave your plastic cards unattended in a car, hotel or changing room where thieves can easily find them *Do not carry plastic cards on the top of a handbag or in a pocket where they can be stolen easily *Never write down your Personal Identification Number (PIN) or divulge it to anyone *If you think your card is lost or stolen, always report it immediately *Programme your card company's lost and stolen number into your mobile *Keep receipts or discard them carefully. Check your statement carefully as soon as it arrives and query unknown purchases *Never let your card out of your sight when paying for goods or services and ensure it is your card that is returned. In a restaurant ask the waiter to bring the card terminal or card imprinter to you or go with him to the till.