The manageress in Howard Toms' store was taken aback when a customer pointed out that almost all his details had been printed on his receipt, including his card number, name and expiry date. 

Howard, who runs Eastney Convenience Store at Southsea in Hampshire, told me: "She was gobsmacked. I phoned Barclaycard Merchant Services because I thought it was a security risk. I was told they were aware of the problem and if we wanted it corrected now we would have to pay £60, otherwise it would be done free as an upgrade in eight weeks." Howard rents his terminal through his membership of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, paying just a fiver a month, which made the £60 upgrade seem somewhat steep.

But would it be safe to wait two months? "Who is responsible if this information gets into the wrong hands?" he asks.

Well, not the retailer. I spoke to APACS (the Association for Payment Clearing Services) and the press officer was at pains to reassure us that the risk of such cards being used fraudulently today was both smaller and slighter than ever before. Apparently, it isn't only Barclaycard Merchant Services that is printing this information on receipts, although she said it was "more noticeable because Barclaycard is a major player". And, apparently, Barclaycard and all the others will all be upgrading shortly. She added: "There is a cut-off date to remove all this information by July."

I assumed that if the risk was now so diminished, the reason for the removal was to restore confidence and she didn't disabuse me of this idea.

So what are the chances of fraud? "If retailers do all the checks there is no way they can be held liable," the press officer said. "If a customer's account is compromised the bank will reimburse them."

She acknowledged that some traders, who may feel they are not attracting much fraud and may not be doing many transactions and perhaps know their customers well, may not bother to do all the checks. (I'm sure we've all bought things in street markets where stall holders say, oh that's okay, when you offer them your cheque guarantee card).

If you think about it, you will realise that there are quite a few fail-safes these days. If you make a 'card not present' transaction over the internet or the phone, then most companies will require your address and/or the last three digits of the security code printed on the back. If you use the card when it is present, then a PIN is required. So, even if you have details which include name, card number and expiry date, you cannot do a lot with it. You can't even clone the card because, to do that, you have to physically have the card about your person so that you can copy the magnetic strip.

You can add to this the fact that people are far more protective these days about their details. I can remember a few years ago when people would carelessly leave the ATM receipt to flutter about in the breeze and when car parks were similarly littered with customers' 'details'. And there were far fewer safeguards in place then.