File photo: Gene J Puskar
File photo: Gene J Puskar

WATCH: Different types of ATM scams to watch out for

By Gabriella Steyn Time of article published Dec 1, 2017

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CAPE TOWN -  Credit card fraud in South Africa is on the rise especially as the festive season draws near. So it is in your best interest to be more vigilant and avoid falling victim to scammers. 

Lee-Anne van Zyl, CEO of FNB Points of  Presence says, “As the festive season nears, we would like to urge ATM users to practice extra caution when using ATMs. Scammers are constantly looking for ways to defraud unsuspecting customers.  However, there are important safety precautions that if followed, can lessen the chance of being a victim.”

One way that you can prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to know how these scams work.

Here is a list of ways that you can get scammed:

1. Card Trapping

Card Trapping happens through a device that is fixed to the ATM for stealing the physical card. One method is to put a device on the machine that uses tape, wire or thread in order to hold a card in. Criminals can then retrieve cards using tweezers.

2.Card Skimming

Skimming refers to the stealing of the electronic card data, enabling the criminal to counterfeit the card.  Consumers experience a normal ATM transaction and are usually unable to notice a problem until their account is defrauded. 

Criminals will socialise with the victim convincing them that they are from a bank and get them to swipe their cards through a skimming device. An accomplice who is loitering around the ATM then “shoulder surfs” to steal the victim’s PIN.

Types of skimming 

Handheld card skimming devices

Handheld card skimming devices are widely used by criminals to steal bank card information from victims at ATMs.

The stolen card information is used to manufacture a counterfeit card with the matched PIN is used to make fraudulent transactions.

 ATM-mounted card skimming devices

Card skimming devices can be also be mounted to an ATM.

Manufactured to match the look of the ATM it is installed on, it makes it difficult to recognise these devices.  Before you withdraw money at an ATM, you should always inspect the machine and cover the number pad with your free hand when entering your PIN.

3. Stealing your PIN using thermal technology

By using a smartphone and a thermal imaging attachment, criminals can easily steal your PIN.

When you enter your pin by pressing the buttons at the atm, you leave behind a thermal signature. Criminals can use a smartphone with a FLIR One thermal imaging attachment to figure out your PIN. It is simple to figure out what your PIN is as there is a time lapse between the time you press the first and last buttons. 


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