ATM card skimming prevention

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POLICE are re-issuing advice to ATM users following a number of incidents in recent months across the Highlands, where teams of organised criminals are targeting ATM users by stealing their bank card details and PIN numbers with sophisticated card-skimming devices and cameras.

On 9 August 2011, two men were jailed at Inverness Sheriff Court as a result of their involvement in card skimming at ATMs in the Inverness area in March of this year. This was a result of extensive enquiry by Northern Constabulary. Those convicted were part of a wider, organised criminal network and continued vigilance by both the police and members of the public is required.

The following information and advice is provided so members of the public know more about this type of crime and can be better informed when they use ATMs.

Card skimming occurs when the criminals fit a device over the normal card entry slot on the front of an ATM and a hidden camera directed at the keypad. The camera is usually concealed behind a false plate which is designed to look like a genuine part of the ATM. However, there will be a very small hole for the camera, as indicated in the pictures provided and this will be visible if a user checks the machine carefully before use.

The skimming device captures the card details and the hidden camera records the PIN number. A replica card is then made and used to withdraw cash from the victims account. Usually those who commit this type of crime will be in the vicinity of the machine, observing activity and making sure that the ATM user does not detect their equipment.

Criminals have also been known to disable nearby cash machines as a means of channelling users towards their specially adapted machine.

In order to help prevent being a victim of this type of crime you should note the following advice

· Check the ATM card slot carefully before inserting your card

· Check for additions to the ATM that are not usual, particularly any evidence of a camera pinhole above the keypad

· Do not use the ATM if you suspect it has been tampered with. Inform the police and the bank straight away

· Cover your hand as you enter your PIN

· Be aware of anyone standing close behind you and looking over your shoulder when entering your PIN

· Check your account balance regularly

· Inform your bank immediately if your account shows any transactions you did not make

Therefore if you see a suspect device do not remove it. Keep a reasonable distance and contact the police immediately. Do not put yourself or those with you at risk by challenging anyone in the vicinity of an ATM who you suspect may be involved in criminal activity.