Beware of ATM skimming

Money matters

With the number of ATM skimming cases and thefts rising to about 30 a week this month, it wasn’t surprising when many people were greeted by a message from their respective telecom services.

Skimming, a threat to ATM/credit card security, common in Western countries is the process by which a card is duplicated. The cameras placed on the ATM machine record the PIN while the skimmers attached to card readers in the machine can generate card numbers. Following this, the card numbers and PINs can be easily matched and a duplicate card produced. Metrolife checks with the authorities on what precautions need to be taken.

“People should be careful about where they are using their cards. You should use your card wherever you usually use it,” says senior police official Murugan S. People should also notice if there is anything different  in the machine, he adds.

While authorities are refraining from naming specific banks, they say unmanned ATMs cause a bigger threat, giving the miscreant enough opportunity to install and retrieve the skimmers and cameras.

“We have had a detailed meeting with the bank authorities concerned and advised them on the use of round-the-clock manned security and CCTV cameras. We are also urging them to use ATMs with advanced technology that are tamper proof,” says B Dayananda, a senior police official.

“Besides, ATMs should not be located in deserted areas because people can easily access them. There is already an RBI guideline for single PIN transaction that will require banks to generate a new PIN for each transaction that will be sent to the customer’s mobile phone,” he adds.

While the banks have been advised on enhanced security measures, Dayananda says, customers too can be cautious in their own ways to avoid misappropriation of any kind. “Opt for ATMs with security guards. Look out for anything suspicious or anybody loitering inside or outside the ATM. Be wary of skimmers and cameras.

If a skimmer is attached, the card slot will look slightly different from usual. In case of any suspicious signs or activity, inform the police and bank authorities through the helpline numbers provided at the ATM.

 “When I go to an ATM, I check the machine for a camera and cover my PIN with one hand when typing it with the other. I also check if somebody is around in the ATM,” says Tanuja Krishnakumar, an advertising professional.

There are others who aren’t worried. “I keep my bank balance under control and am not worried about theft when going to an ATM,” says Akhil Atreya, an entrepreneur.

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