Fraud guide

ATM fraud

What are the criminals doing?

We see two main methods used by fraudsters to target ATMs – skimming and card trapping.

In a skimming attack, a criminal fits a small device in the card slot of the ATM. This little gadget captures the data from the magnetic stripe on the back of a bank card. Having also copied the PIN using a concealed camera, the fraudster puts this stolen bank card data onto the magnetic stripe of another card – a mobile phone top-up card, for example – which is then used to make cash withdrawals, usually overseas.

Card trapping occurs when a device fitted to the card slot prevents your card from being returned to you. Once you’ve left the machine, the fraudster takes the device off, taking your card.

How to stay safe

Criminals usually try to get your PIN by fitting a small video camera which overlooks the keypad, cleverly disguising it to look like part of the machine.

Whenever you’re at a cash machine, try to use your fingers to conceal your PIN from any prying eyes or cameras.

If your card is trapped in a machine, you might think there’s been a problem and you can just come back the following day to get your card back. But of course as soon as you leave, the criminal returns to the machine and takes your bank card.

It’s therefore really important that you have the help number on the back of your card saved to your mobile phone beforehand, so you can call your bank straight away, while you’re still near the machine. 

What do the banks do?

Following the advice above will help keep you safe, but it’s also important to know what banks are doing to stop fraudsters.

The police work closely with the banks to tackle the ATM criminals – identifying the fraudsters and taking out the gangs that are responsible.

Banks and cash machine operators also invest heavily in an effort to combat these types of crimes. Security devices – such as enhanced card slots – are fitted to cash machines to prevent both skimming and card trapping.

Working together with the banks and police will minimise your chances of being defrauded. Just remember: cover your PIN