On the Lookout: ATM Fraud
By: BankingMyWay.com Staff

By Brian O’Connell
His name is Chao, and he became an overnight sensation among financial fraudsters  and the global law enforcement agencies for his YouTube Video that laid out the blueprint for perpetuating bank ATM fraud.

Turkish authorities finally caught up with Chao, arresting him in September, 2008, on charges of ATM fraud. But his manifesto lives on and its required reading for anyone interested in protecting their bank account from bank cash kiosk crooks like Chao.

Chao and financial fraud professionals like him have increasingly preyed on ATM users. Anti-fraud investigators say that terms like "skimmer" or a "shoulder surfer" should become familiar with bank card users, citing them as hallmark tactics of ATM card thieves.

So, how big a problem is ATM fraud? According to a recent survey by Javelin Strategy and Research, one-in-four of survey participants say their bank pin numbers had been compromised. Javelin translates that figure into 2.7 million ATM card thefts in the U.S. alone.

What steps can ATM customers take in reducing the risk of ATM fraud?

  • Shield the bank ATM screen with your hand when punching in your pin numbers. Financial fraud thieves have made the practice of “shoulder surfing,” or the art of reading your pin as you key it in.

  • Make it a habit to check your online bank statements, with an emphasis on looking for irregular or unrecognizable ATM withdrawals or bank or debt card transactions. Immediately report any irregularities to your bank and to the police.

  • Use ATM machines that are located inside banks and other financial institutions. The extra security that banks use usually keeps financial fraud professionals outside on the street.

  • Avoid using your ATM card at kiosks located at or near cash-only establishments, like bars or restaurants. They’re popular haunts for ATM scam artists looking for your pin number.

  • Ask your bank to place a maximum limit on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from your bank account.

  • Avoid using ATM machines that have sticky residue on the card slot surface. ATM thieves sometimes coat card slots with a sticky substance to make you think the machine “ate” your card. After you leave to report the stuck card, the thieves use special tools to extract your card and steal your money.

  • Destroy old ATM cards immediately after receiving your replacement cards.

Keeping scam artists like Chao away from your pin number is just a matter of common sense, alongside a healthy dash of due diligence. Play your ATM transactions close to the vest, and chances are you won’t become the latest ATM fraud statistic.

For more information on identity fraud, click here.

—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.

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