Warning issued following huge rise in ATM fraud

Cash machine users have been warned to play safe when making cash withdrawals, after figures published today revealed that fraudulent ATM withdrawals topped £61 million last year – a rise of 85%.

Total card fraud rose by 18% to £478.8 million in the 12 months to June 2004. The £28.1 million increase in fraudulent cash machine withdrawals marked a major portion of this increase, according to Apacs, the UK Payments Association.

The association said that the big fraud rise was largely due to the use of increasingly sophisticated techniques by criminals. Organised crime gangs are now using skimming devices, which copy card details, and miniature camera devices, which record cardholders’ PINs at cash machines, which has led to cash machine scams becoming the fastest growing category of fraud during the year to June 2004.

Cash machine fraud can also involve more mundane practices like shoulder surfing – where criminals watch a PIN being entered before pick-pocketing the cardholder.

In order to minimise the risk of becoming a fraud victim, Apacs has advised card users to take on board its 'Top Ten Tips' list. The tips include: being aware of others around you; be aware of signs of machine tampering; don't accept help from ‘well-meaning’ strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted; and stand close to the cash machine and always shield the keypad to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN. For a complete list of advice log on to the Apacs website at www.cardwatch.org.uk

Sandra Quinn, Apacs director of corporate communications, said: “Criminals are making extra efforts to target cash machines before chip and PIN – which will prevent the use of skimmed cards in cash machines - is fully rolled out. In the meantime we all need to be more vigilant when we use our cards. By following our top ten tips cardholders will minimise their chances of falling victim to cash machine crime.”

However, Apacs said that while there are dangers associated with card use, it was still safer than carrying cash.

“Remember, it is much safer to carry a card around than keep a lot of cash in your wallet and if you are a victim of card fraud you will not suffer any financial losses as long as you haven’t acted negligently,” Ms Quinn said.


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