Victims report that their cards have been retained by ATMs before a message appears on the screen saying the service is ‘unavailable’
An urgent warning has been issued over cash machine scam that can drain your account in minutes.
The thefts are achieved by a discreet device being placed over the card slot of the machine and experts have shared how the public can protect themselves. It comes as figures from the National Fraud Hunter Prevention Service show fraud rates for cards in the UK rose by 42 per cent in the final quarter of 2021, the highest rate seen since 2017.
Despite more people using contactless to pay for payments, sometimes you need to have money in your wallets and therefore use a cash machine. In recent weeks there have been numerous reports of cards being retained by ATMs and that machines have been swallowing their payment devices before a message appears on the screen saying the service is ‘unavailable’.
Brean Horne, personal finance expert at comparison site, NerdWallet, is warning current account users to be extra vigilant when withdrawing money at an ATM machine, reports WalesOnline. He said: “These thefts are being achieved by a discreet device being placed over the card slot of the machine, which scans the card details, transmits the data to the criminal, and then blocks the card from being returned.
“Fraudsters have several ways of cleverly accessing your current account and spending your money within minutes. So it’s vital to remain vigilant and take preventive measures to safeguard yourself while using an ATM.”
Brean goes on to highlight what you should do if you are a victim of current account fraud, along with five precautions to take going forward when withdrawing money.
- If you suspect suspicious fraudulent activity after your card is swallowed, the first thing you should do is cancel or suspend your bank card from further use.
- If you have a banking app on your phone, you can freeze your card temporarily until you can find out exactly what has happened.
- Contact your bank and let them know what has happened. Also, do not leave the ATM while you are dealing with the situation, as the terminal might eject your card without any warning.
Brean’s 5 precautions you should take when withdrawing money from an ATM
1) Choose the right location
Using a secure ATM is essential for not only the safety of your money, but also your personal security.
Ideally, you should always use an ATM that is in a well-lit area with CCTV surveillance, such as, busy high street or in a secure building. If possible, avoid using an ATM after midnight, or one that’s located in an abandoned area. If you are in an unfamiliar place and feel unsafe or unsure about making an ATM withdrawal, don’t take the risk. Instead, try to find a safer alternative to make a payment.
2) Stay alert
It is vital to stay alert at all times when using an ATM. Before use, take a moment to check for any suspicious activity around the ATM. It’s also worth checking if you have been followed or if anyone may be spying on you before using a machine.
Ideally you should use an ATM with visible CCTV cameras around the machine or, if you’re in a building, a security guard close by to enhance your security. When taking your money from the machine, count it away from the ATM or only when you reach a safe place, as it is not advisable to handle cash in an open public area.
3) Safeguard your PIN when entering
Your PIN is the most valuable security measure when accessing your account through an ATM, so it is extremely important you keep it a secret. Always block the view of the ATM keypad with your hand while entering your PIN. Also, never disclose your PIN to anyone, unless it is a friend or family member you trust and they urgently need access to it.
If contacted via phone call or email, remember that banks will never ask for your PIN. Therefore, never be persuaded by anyone who asks for it. Having the same pin or password for more than one card can also put your security at risk. Try to have different pin numbers for each card and make sure they aren’t easy to guess, for example using a date of birth.
Also, avoid writing pins down in your phone or notebook in case they are lost or stolen.
4) Check over the ATM carefully
Fraudsters can rig inconspicuous electronic devices called ‘skimmers’ that can record anything you input. Therefore, it is important to inspect the machine carefully, especially the card and keypad slot before entering your PIN.
Sometimes these dodgy devices can even withhold your cash. If this does happen, visit your bank branch or call the toll-free number for assistance. For extra precaution, do not throw away ATM receipts carelessly, as the information in them could be used against you.
5) Don’t ask strangers for help
If you are struggling with using the machine, you may want to seek help from someone passing by. Whilst this may be okay in an emergency, never reveal your PIN or get them to complete a transaction on your behalf. Also never count cash in front of strangers.
Essentially, asking for help from someone you do not know should be a last resort. Try to seek assistance from someone who works for a bank nearby.