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Fraud Prevention (for Consumers)

Most ATM frauds happen due to the negligence of customers in using, and more importantly, negligence of banks in educating their customers about the matters that should be taken care of while at an ATM. The number of ATM frauds in India is more in regard to negligence of the Personal Identification Number (PIN), than by sophisticated crimes like skimming. Banks need to develop a fraud policy – the policy should be written and distributed to all employees, borrowers and depositors.

The most important aspect for reducing ATM related fraud is to educate the customer. Here is a compiled list of guidelines to help your customer from being an ATM fraud victim:

  • Look for suspicious attachments. Criminals often capture information through ATM skimming – using devices that steal magnetic strip information. At a glance, the skimmer looks just like a regular ATM slot, but it‘s an attachment that captures ATM card numbers. To spot one, the attachment slightly protrudes from the machine and may not be parallel with the inherent grooves. Sometimes, the equipment will even cut off the printed labels on the ATM. The skimmer will not obtain PIN numbers, however. To get that, fraudsters place hidden cameras facing the ATM screen. There‘s also the helpful bystander (the criminal) who may be standing by to kindly inform you the machine has had problems and offer to help. If you do not feel safe at any time, press the ATM cancel button, remove your card and leave the area immediately.

  • Minimize your time at the ATM. The more time you spend at the ATM, the more vulnerable you are. If you need to update your records after a transaction, one is advised do it at home or office, but not while at the ATM. Even when depositing a cheque at the ATM, on should not make/sign the cheque at the ATM. After the transaction, if you think you are being followed, go to an area with a lot of people and call the police.

  • Make smart deposits. Some ATMs allow you to directly deposit checks and cash into your accounts without stuffing envelopes. As for the envelope-based deposits, make sure they go through – if it gets jammed and it doesn‘t fully go into the machine, the next person can walk up and take it out. After having made the ATM deposit, compare your records with the account statements or online banking records.

  • Avoid using ATMs at night. While robberies are less prevalent than fraud at ATMs, there‘s still risk, especially at night. And if you have to use an ATM late at night, use one at a bank itself. Financial institutions have to follow certain guidelines and regulations as far as lighting is concerned. They also have cameras on all the ATMs.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Before you slide your card into the machine, look around if the area appears safe or if there is anybody who can see the PIN pad. Having the card ready before entering is ATM premises is better than searching for it though the purse at the machine. While you are fumbling with a wallet or purse, you are easy prey for a thief. A good rule of thumb is to always shield your card, no matter how comfortable you are with the place. If your card is stuck inside an ATM, be suspicious of anyone offering help. Immediately report the incident to the bank


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