ATM card swapping is on the increase – here’s how to protect yourself

Pic: Pixabay

CRIMINALS are always ready to try and steal your money, and you are particularly vulnerable when using the ATM.

Unfortunately these crimes appear to be becoming more and more prevalent.

Be aware of how these thieves operate: While you are using an ATM, a stranger will approach and try to ‘assist’ you. Your card will be taken out of the ATM by the criminal, who presses the cancel button to eject the card. It is then swapped without you even realising it.

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The card swap usually happens before you have the chance to enter your PIN. While ‘helping’ you’, the fraudster remains close enough to see your PIN being entered.

You will then end up leave the ATM either with someone else’s card, or without your card which will have apparently been ‘retained’ by the ATM.

The criminal meanwhile walks away with your card and PIN, to use at their leisure. By the time you realise what has happened and cancel the card, your money would already have been withdrawn.

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Criminals attempt to confuse ATM users, making them more inclined to accept help. They my do this by changing the language on the ATM screen, by activating the ‘cardless function’ to change the way the display looks or by jamming the card slot or the pin pad of the ATM to lure a customer to a more remote ATM.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

* 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.

* Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM.

* Be cautious of strangers offering to help.

* 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.

* If you are disturbed or interfered with, cancel the transaction immediately and report the incident.

* Should you have been disturbed while transacting, immediately change your PIN or stop the card.

* Do not ask anyone to assist you at the ATM. Rather go inside the bank for help.

* Never force your card into the slot.

* Memorise your PIN, never write it down or share it with anyone.

* Choose a PIN that will not be easily guessed. Do not use your date of birth as a PIN.

* Key it in in such a way that no one else can see it.

* Don’t let anyone stand too close to you.

* 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 R1 000).

* 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.

* After you have completed your transaction successfully, leave the ATM area immediately.

* Make sure you understand the screen before entering a PIN, as it could be in ‘cardless transaction’ mode.

(Information supplied by South African Banking Risk Information Centre)

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