Due to the high incidence of ATM Card Fraud, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) would like to alert bank customers to an existing modus operandi, which has become prevalent again, to ensure that they are empowered to protect themselves and to prevent them from falling victim to criminals.
SABRIC CEO, Kalyani Pillay has emphasised the importance of being extremely vigilant when transacting at ATM’s. “Transacting at ATM’s is quick and convenient, but unfortunately criminals exploit this facility for their own fraudulent purposes. Criminals use various ways to manipulate and distract ATM users in order to gain access to their bankcards and PIN’s, and of course, ultimately, steal their money.”
Criminals use various modus operandi to commit this kind of fraud, so it is imperative that bank customers be aware and take the necessary protective measures:
Card Swopping: While using an ATM, an unknown person will approach the victim and try to “assist” them. Their card will be taken out of the ATM by the criminal who presses the cancel button for the card to eject. It is then swopped without the bank customer even realising it. The card swop usually happens before the victim inserts their PIN to transact, which prevents the transaction from taking place due to the swopped card being in the ATM. During this process of “assisting”, the fraudster is close enough to view the PIN. The victim will then leave the ATM after the unsuccessful transaction, either with someone else’s card, which they don’t realise at that point or without their card which was apparently swallowed by the ATM. At the same time the criminal walks away with the victim’s card and PIN, which will be utilised almost immediately at another nearby ATM. By the time the victim realises what has happened, and arranges to cancel the card, their money has already been withdrawn.
Criminals attempt to confuse bank customers, making them more inclined to accept assistance at ATM’s by:
- Changing the language on ATM screen so that it looks unfamiliar to a customer, creating confusion;
- Activating the “cardless function” to change the way the display usually looks to disorientate a customer;
- Jamming the card slot or the pin pad of the ATM to lure a customer to a more remote ATM, around a corner, or short distance away
To protect yourself from criminals utilising these modus operandi, adhere to the following:
- If you think the ATM is faulty, cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY, report the fault to your Bank and transact at another ATM.
- Avoid ATMs that are dimly lit or surrounded by loiterers, and never allow your children to draw money using your card, since they’re the most vulnerable to perpetrators.
- Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue.
- Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN.
- Follow the instructions on the ATM screen carefully.
- ONLY punch in your PIN once prompted by the ATM.
- Report suspicious items or people around ATMs to the Bank.
- Choose familiar and well-lit ATMs where you are visible and safe.
- Report any concerns regarding the ATM to the Bank. Toll free numbers are displayed on all ATMs.
- Be alert to your surroundings. Do not use the ATM if there are loiterers or suspicious people in the vicinity. Also, take note that fraudsters are often well-dressed, well-spoken and respectable looking individuals.
- If you are disturbed or interfered with, whilst transacting at the ATM, your card may be skimmed, by being removed and replaced back into the ATM without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately and report the incident using your Bank’s Stop Card Toll free number that is displayed on all ATMs, as well as on the back of your bank card.
- Should you have been disturbed whilst transacting, immediately change your PIN or stop the card, to protect yourself from any unauthorised transactions occurring on your account.
- Know what your ATM looks like so that you are able to identify any foreign objects attached to it.
- Do not ask anyone to assist you at the ATM, not even the security personnel guarding the ATM or a bank official. Rather go inside the bank for help.
- Never force your card into the slot as it might have been tampered with.
- Do not insert your card if the screen layout is not familiar to you and looks like the machine has been tampered with.
- Don’t use ATMs where the card slot, keypad or screen has been tampered with. It could be an attempt to compromise your card.
- Your PIN is your personal key to secure banking and it is crucial to keep it confidential.
- Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone, not even with your family member or a Bank official.
- Choose a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Do not use your date of birth as a PIN.
- Key it in your in such a way that no one else can see it e.g. cover your PIN when punching in the numbers even when alone at the ATM as some criminals may place secret cameras to observe your PIN.
- Don’t let anyone stand too close to you in order to keep both your card and PIN safe.
- Some fraudsters wait until you’ve drawn your cash to take advantage. Be wary of people loitering around the ATM and ensure that you are not followed.
- Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.
- Set a daily withdrawal limit that suits your needs (the default amount is set at R1000.00), to protect yourself in an event that your card and PIN are compromised.
- Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your Bank IMMEDIATELY.
- Avoid withdrawing cash to pay for goods/services as your Debit Card can be used for these transactions. You are able to use your Debit Card wherever the Maestro/Visa Electron logo is displayed.
- After you have completed your transaction successfully, leave the ATM area immediately. Be cautious of strangers requesting you to return to the ATM to finalise/close the transaction because they are unable to transact. Skimming or card swopping may occur during this request.
- Make sure that prior to transacting at the ATM, you understand the screen before entering a PIN, as it could be in “cardless transaction” mode.