ATM scam can drain your bank account in minutes – expert explains how to protect yourself

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We may be heading towards a cashless economy, but sometimes you need to have cash in your wallet. And if you’re using an ATM to withdraw some of your hard-earned cash, there’s a new scam you need to be aware of.

The deception sees criminals stealing card details and emptying bank accounts within minutes. Victims report that their cards were withheld by ATMs and the machines swallowed their payment devices before a message appeared on the screen stating that the service is “unavailable”.

Card fraud rates in the UK rose 42% in the last quarter of 2021, the highest rate seen since 2017, according to the National Fraud Hunter Prevention Service.

Brean Horne, personal finance expert on a comparison site, NerdWalletwarns current account users to be extra careful when withdrawing cash from an ATM.

Brean said: “These thefts are carried out by a discreet device placed on the card slot of the machine, which scans the details of the card, transmits the data to the criminal and then prevents the card from being returned. Fraudsters have several ways to cleverly access your checking account and spend your money in minutes. It is therefore essential to remain vigilant and take preventive measures to protect yourself when using an ATM.

Brean goes on to outline what you should do if you are a victim of checking account fraud, as well as five precautions to take in the future when withdrawing money.

  • If you suspect suspicious fraudulent activity after your card has been swallowed, the first thing to do is to cancel or suspend your bank card.
  • If you have a banking app on your phone, you can temporarily block your card until you know exactly what happened.
  • Contact your bank and let them know what happened. Also, don’t leave the ATM while you’re dealing with the situation, as the terminal could eject your card without any warning.

Brean’s Five Precautions You Should Take When Withdrawing Cash From An ATM

Choose the right location

Using a secure ATM is essential not only for the safety of your money, but also for your personal safety.

Ideally, you should always use an ATM that is in a well-lit area with CCTV surveillance, such as a busy shopping street or in a secure building. If possible, avoid using an ATM after midnight or an ATM located in an abandoned area. If you find yourself in an unfamiliar location and feel insecure or unsure about making an ATM withdrawal, don’t take any chances. Instead, try to find a safer alternative to making a payment.

stay alert

It is essential to remain vigilant at all times when using an ATM. Before use, take a moment to check for suspicious activity around the ATM. It is also worth checking if you have been tracked or if someone can spy 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 nearby security guard to enhance your security. When withdrawing your cash 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.

Protect your PIN when entering

Your PIN is the most valuable security measure when accessing your account through an ATM, so it is extremely important that you keep it secret. Always block view of the ATM keypad with your hand when entering your PIN. Also, never tell anyone your PIN, unless it’s a trusted friend or family member who urgently needs it. to access.

If you are contacted by phone or email, remember that banks will never ask you for your PIN. Therefore, never be persuaded by anyone asking for it. Having the same PIN or password for more than one card can also put your security at risk. Try to have different PINs for each card and make sure they are not easily guessed, for example by using a date of birth.

Also avoid writing pins in your phone or laptop in case they get lost or stolen.

Check the ATM carefully

Fraudsters can trick discreet electronic devices called “skimmers” that can record anything you type. Therefore, it is important to inspect the machine carefully, especially the card slot and the keypad before entering your PIN.

Sometimes these dodgy devices can even hold your money. If this happens, visit your bank branch or call the toll-free number for assistance. As an added precaution, do not discard ATM receipts carelessly, as the information they contain could be used against you.

Don’t ask strangers for help

If you are having difficulty using the machine, you may want to ask a passerby for help. Although it may be fine in an emergency, never reveal your PIN or ask them to complete a transaction on your behalf. Also, never count cash in front of strangers.

Basically, asking someone you don’t know for help should be a last resort. Try asking someone who works for a nearby bank for help.

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