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Warning of ATM card swap fraud as R99 debit scam rolls on

Feb 13 2017 16:02

Cape Town - Bank customers have been warned to be vigilant when transacting at ATM’s, while Fin24 users continue falling victim to unauthorised debit orders.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) cautioned in a statement on Monday about an ATM card swapping scam which has become prevalent again.  

“Transacting at ATM’s is quick and convenient, but unfortunately criminals exploit this facility for their own fraudulent purposes," Sabric CEO, Kalyani Pillay said a statement on Monday.

"Criminals use various ways to manipulate and distract ATM users in order to gain access to their bankcards and PIN’s, and of course, ultimately, steal their money.”

READ: Keep watch of these five scams

Sabric outlined how criminals trick clients.

While using an ATM, an unknown person will approach the victim and try to “assist” them. Their card will be taken out of the ATM by the criminal who presses the cancel button for the card to eject. It is then swapped without the bank customer even realising it. The card swap usually happens before the victim inserts their PIN to transact, which prevents the transaction from taking place due to the swapped card being in the ATM. During this process of “assisting”, the fraudster is close enough to view the PIN.

The victim will then leave the ATM after the unsuccessful transaction, either with someone else's card, which they don’t realise at that point or without their card which was apparently swallowed by the ATM. At the same time the criminal walks away with the victim’s card and PIN, which will be utilised almost immediately at another nearby ATM. By the time the victim realises what has happened, and arranges to cancel the card, their money has already been withdrawn.

It added that criminals attempt to confuse bank customers, making them more inclined to accept assistance at ATM’s by:

- Changing the language on ATM screen so that it looks unfamiliar to a customer, creating confusion;
- Activating the “cardless function” to change the way the display usually looks to disorientate a customer;
- Jamming the card slot or the pin pad of the ATM to lure a customer to a more remote ATM, around a corner, or short distance away.

Sabric is encouraging clients to be cautious of strangers offering help at ATMs and to report suspicious items or people around ATMs to the bank.

Lost and stolen card fraud through swapping at ATMs is a growing threat, Sabric told Fin24 last year. Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN are hot-spots for ATM fraud in South Africa, it said at the time.

Meanwhile, Fin24 readers continue falling victim to the so-called R99 debit order scam. The amounts are so small that no SMS or e-mail notifications are sent to consumers.

READ: Banks under fire over R99 debit order scam

"I have three different unauthorised debit orders that I knew nothing about," Charmaine wrote.

"I only found out now that my money has been taken out of my account monthly and I didn't even realise since they only take R99 a month."

She said she is worried about how criminals gained access to her account and personal information.

Clive Mellows said he also had to block two unknown debits from Senua Business and Sagewise 1 from deducting money from his bank account.

"Both debits were for R99.00 each. I am still trying to find out how long these were in force."

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sabric  |  scams  |  banks
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