Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

As the use of ATMs continues to rise, scammers have devised a range of devious schemes, including ATM shoulder surfing, card skimming, card swapping, and card trapping, to pilfer card data or physical cards. These tactics ultimately enable the scammers to carry out unauthorized ATM withdrawals and local purchases.

One prevalent scam involves card swapping, where the victim’s card is stealthily substituted while they are conducting a transaction at the ATM. Typically, this occurs after the victim has entered their required PIN to finalize the transaction. Before the card swap takes place, a perpetrator often engages in “shoulder surfing,” spying on the victim’s PIN input. Criminals employing this method usually operate in small groups, with some executing the card swap while others attempt to distract the victim. Consequently, the victim exits the ATM unwittingly using someone else’s card.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has also drawn attention to a practice known as skimming at the ATM. In this scenario, an individual posing as a bank employee approaches the client and uses various social engineering tactics to persuade them to re-activate their card by swiping it through a device, which is, in reality, a skimming device. This skimming event may occur before or after the client has withdrawn money from the ATM. Often, there are additional individuals loitering around the ATM, attempting to observe the client’s PIN as they use the machine.

In some instances, scammers tamper with the ATM card reader entrance slot, making it difficult for the victim to insert their card. Seizing this opportunity, a criminal approaches the victim and steals their ATM card, often leading them to another ATM to attempt a cash withdrawal. The thief absconds with the card and proceeds to skim it. What makes this scheme particularly distressing is that the victim is returned their original card, only to discover later that money has been illicitly withdrawn from their account.

To safeguard against falling victim to these ATM-related scams, experts offer these key tips:

  1. Exercise Caution: If you encounter any difficulty inserting your card into the slot, do not force it, as it may have been tampered with.
  2. Stay at the ATM: If your card is retained by the ATM, do not leave the machine before taking the necessary steps to cancel your card and report the incident.

Vigilance and prudent practices remain essential in protecting oneself against the increasingly sophisticated tactics employed by scammers in the realm of ATM fraud.

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