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Sarah Young’s Cyber Crime Column 10/10/2016 - ATM fraud

As with many elements of cyber crime, fraudsters are always trying to come up with new ways to find out people’s bank account details when they visit the cash point so that they can use that information to commit fraud.

Whenever I visit an ATM I’m always surprised at the number of people that don’t take basic precautions to protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud so this week I wanted to take the opportunity to explain how, with a few simple checks and some adjustments to the way you take money out, you can help to keep your information secure.

It starts before you’ve even put your card in the machine and you should always be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing money – there may be a queue and people might be close by when you go to use the cash point. Be wary of people loitering nearby and don’t let anyone try and distract you.

Criminals use a variety of ways to try and access your card details and PIN. For example they may put a skimming device in the card slot that copies the details from the magnetic strip on your card.

• Look at the cash machine for any loose fittings or things that might look like alterations on the machine (such as a loose keypad – this might be a fake keypad used to capture your PIN details) 
• Report any suspicions you have to the operator of the ATM

Shielding your PIN is an absolute must, prying eyes may not just be physical people at the scene. Covering the keypad with one hand is simple and effective as fraudsters employ all sorts of ways to try and capture your PIN

• Are there any holes drilled in the machine that might hide a hidden camera?
• Are there mirrors on the machine which look like they shouldn’t be there?
• There have even been cases where iPods have been used to video people entering their PIN – used in conjunction with a skimmer, the criminals have all they need to go on a spending spree with your card details.

The golden rule is that if you feel unsure or unsafe at an ATM, avoid the transaction altogether and walk away. But what if you put your card into the slot and then become suspicious? Well, you can always cancel the transaction without entering your details, if the machine doesn’t return your card to you, ring the bank or ATM company straight away, don’t leave the machine until you do – if you think criminals are in the vicinity call the police.

Many card providers have a 24 hour telephone number printed on their card that you can call if your card is lost or stolen – put this in your phone and you’ll always have it to hand even if your card gets ‘swallowed’.

Making these small adjustments can make a big difference in protecting yourself from fraud at the cash point, tell your friends and family and together we can continue to fight fraud.

PC Sarah Young is the Cyber Crime Prevention Officer for Wiltshire Police. She’s been with the Force for 13 years and works as part of the Crime Prevention Team. Sarah is passionate about helping people stay safe online.

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