Despite the general public's apparent caution toward online banking, figures released in March this year by the bank clearing house Apacs showed that cash machine fraud costs the banking industry more than £60m a year.

And this shouldn't be a surprise. You can restrict access to your home PC, and if you maintain vigilance against keyloggers and be cautious about phishing attacks, you can stay largely in control of your personal battle against thieves.

But on street cash machines are, in effect, your online-banking PC exposed to any passing criminal or scamster. So it pays to take every care when using the cashpoint.

Graham Mott of the cash-machine company LINK says that the biggest concern in this area is 'card skimmming': "It is important that the industry works with consumers to combat fraud in any form, he said. "And there are ways in which consumers can ensure that they do not become victims."

Here then, are PC Advisor and LINK's Top 10 ways of combatting cashpoint fraud:

1. Just as you feel safest on your own PC while online banking, try to use cash machines with which you are most familiar. And if you are off familiar territory, look for well-lit, well-placed cash machines where you feel comfortable.

More: Bank customers get chip and PIN readers

2. Check out the whole cash machine area before you approach it. If there are any suspicious-looking individuals around or if the cash machine looks too isolated or unsafe, ditch it. Go elsewhere.

3. The biggest security risk involved in online banking is you. You know your codes and passwords, and you could give them away. The same applies on the street. Keep your PIN secret. Never, ever reveal your PIN to anyone. Not to someone from your bank, the police and especially not to a "helpful" stranger.

More: 'Pharming' attack targets 50 banks

4. you wouldn't put up with a colleague looking over your shoulder at work, so check that other individuals in the queue keep an acceptable distance from you. Be on the look-out for people who might be watching you enter your PIN.

5. Stand close to the cash machine and shield the keypad with your other hand when keying in your PIN. If someone gets your online password, they still need a host of other personal information. On the street, if someone gets your PIN you're a poor man walking.

6. Check to see if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the cash machine indicating it might have been tampered with. If the cash machine appears to have any attachments to the card slot or key pad, do not use it. Check for unusual instructions on the display screen and for suspicious blank screens. If you suspect that the cash machine has been interfered with, proceed to another machine and inform the bank. A cash machine is a computer, and if someone can program it, someone else can hack it.

7. Avoid cash machines which have messages or signs fixed to them indicating that the screen directions have been changed, especially if the message is posted over the card reader. Banks and other cash machine owners will not put up messages directing you to use specific cash machines.

More: HSBC targets Bluetooth phones outside banks

8. Be especially cautious when strangers offer to help you at a cash machine, even if your card is stuck or you are experiencing difficulty with the transaction. You should not allow anyone to distract you while you are at the cash machine. It's sad but true, but you can't trust other people with your money. You wouldn't send money to the 'Nigerian millionaire' who emails you asking for help (you wouldn't, would you?) so don't trust people you meet on the street.

9. Never force your card into the card slot. If you feel the cash machine is not working normally, press the cancel key and withdraw your card and then proceed to another cash machine. If your card gets jammed, retained or lost report this immediately to the bank and/or police using the helpline provided or nearest phone.

10. Keep your printed transaction record so that you can compare your cash machine receipts to your monthly statement. Regularly check your account balance online, and report any discrepancies to your bank immediately.

More: Report: beware mobile banking hackers

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