RKN Global’s Ronald K. Noble on ATM Fraud

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ATM fraud generally involves the unauthorized use of an ATM card to withdraw funds from another persons’ account.1

RKN Global’s founder, Ronald K. Noble, places great emphasis on the need to be aware of the methods criminals use to commit crime. Being aware of the methods criminals use to commit ATM fraud can help in prevention.

Statistics show fraud losses at ATMs in the UK rose from £27.3 million in 2015 to £32.7 million in 2016.2 The rise in ATM theft is disconcerting and it is likely to continueappears to be continuing.3 It is therefore important for ATM card owners to take action to keep their cards and accounts safe.

How people commit ATM fraud

Understanding how criminals commit ATM fraud can make people less likely to fall victim. Some of the ways criminals steal money include:

  • Placing a false façade over the ATM machine. The machine itself won’t look any different, but the façade will “eat” the bank card, while filming users entering their PIN. Once the card has been “eaten,” criminals will then seek to remove it and will then have access to the card and its associated PIN.
  • Using a false façade to obtain cash that users wish to deposit into their account. Here, criminals take advantage of those who are too busy to wait in line at the bank to make deposits. A false façade that’s placed over the deposit box collects the money, which ends up lining the criminals’ pockets.
  • Free-standing ATMs that can be found in a variety of stores, airports, gas stations and other venues can be used as a method of obtaining cash. Hackers using Wi-Fi scanners and sophisticated programs work to download transaction details which include card and PIN numbers.

ATMs can contain up to 10,000 bills, making the machines very attractive to those who wish to steal large sums of cash.4 In spite of the increased level of security that banks have surrounding their ATMs and their efforts to educate their customers with security advice, over 2,500 people fall victim to this type of fraud every week.5

How to reduce the likelihood of falling victim to ATM fraud

While security surrounding ATMs and bank cards increases, ATM fraud continues to be a concern all over the world. Reassuringly, it is possible to reduce the likelihood off falling victim to this type of crime.

Shielding the key pad

Placing a hand in such a way that the keypad can be shielded from hidden cameras can help prevent this ATM fraud. Shielding the keypad will prevent criminals who like to stand behind ATM users from seeing the user’s PIN.

Standing close to the machine

Standing close to the machine will also help to prevent criminals from seeing the keypad clearly and learning the PIN code.

Do not become distracted

When using an ATM, stay focused on the task at hand. Criminals sometimes use distraction techniques in order to draw users’ attention away from their cards and/or cash. One example involves a criminal watching a user enter his or her PIN. Once the criminal has noted the PIN, he or she pretends to drop coins, in the hope the ATM user will help pick them up. If the ATM user helps the individual who dropped the coins, the criminal’s accomplices take advantage of the distraction to swap the user’s bank card with a fake one.6 These actions result in the user walking away with the expected cash and a fake bank card, thus delaying the discovery of the crime and allowing the perpetrators more time to use the card and evade capture. Staying focused on withdrawing cash and not being distracted by events that are occurring nearby can result in fewer people falling victim.

Canceling the transaction if people are acting suspiciously

Be aware of those who stand close to the ATM while it is in use. Users should cancel the transaction immediately if they suspect they are being watched. Informing the bank of suspicious activity could help prevent other incidences of ATM fraud from occurring.

Look at the ATM to see if there is evidence of tampering

Looking at the ATM to determine if it has been tampered with can help individuals lower their chances of becoming a victim of fraud. Have features of the machine changed shape? Is there now a tiny camera hole opposite the key pad? Does the ATM look like someone has tried to break into it?

If the machine seems to have been tampered with, please contact your bank immediately, and do not use the ATM!

What victims of ATM crimes should do

Victims of ATM crimes should contact their bank immediately, stating when and where they think the crime took place. Those who are unsure as to whether they have fallen victim should also contact their bank.

Save recent bank statements, and be ready to give the police information about anyone who may have been involved in the crime.

Ronald Noble, founder of RKN Global, places great emphasis on preventative measures that the public can take to prevent crime generally.  Be aware when using ATMs– look out for evidence of tampering, be aware of the surroundings—and report anything that raises suspicions. Armed with knowledge of the techniques that criminals can use to commit ATM fraud, users can help to reduce the probability of falling victim.

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