ATM card fraud: Here's how to spot and avoid a card skimming device

Nearly 80 customers of nationalised banks in Kolkata have been duped by ATM fraudsters

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Recently, a gang based in Kolkata duplicated a large number of ATM cards, robbing more than 80 people of their money. Although it’s nothing new, you should be aware of such scammers who use ATM’s to steal from you.

How is skimming done?

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A device called a skimmer is installed in the card slot of the machine. When the card is inserted in the slot, this device captures the card details. A camera installed somewhere above the number pad, captures the ATM pin. These details are then used either to clone a card, which is used to withdraw money from ATMs, or the details are used to shop online.

How to spot a card skimming device

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If the ATM pad seem different from the usual, it is possible that the ATM machine has been tampered with. If the card reader seems loose or wobbly or protruding outward, tug it outward to see if there is an attachment that has been installed. Sometimes, a thin film is placed on the keypad to capture keystrokes. If you notice any such film, again avoid using that machine.

How to avoid falling prey to such frauds

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When you feed the pin into the ATM keypad, you should cover the keypad with your free hand so that no camera is able to record the pin. ATM machines located adjacent to a branch usually have a guard. It is safer to use such machines. Also, stick to machines at heavily frequented locations rather than those in standalone locations.    

Bank services that should be put to use

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Another precaution that all bank customers should exercise is to enroll for their bank's SMS service so that they can receive real-time alerts in case of a fraudulent withdrawal from their account. Some banks have introduced a feature of ‘locking’ the card or setting limits on how much can be spent using the card.

What to do if your card does get cloned

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Call the bank immediately and get your card blocked. This will prevent further withdrawals. Early notification will also help you get compensated if it is established that the breach did not occur due to your fault. The next step is to file a first information report (FIR) at a nearby police station.

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