Absa Card urges vigilance at ATMs

Debit and credit card fraud at ATMs is on the increase.  South African crime prevention agencies believe criminal syndicates have geared up for the influx of international visitors due in the country in June and July 2010. “Criminal syndicates follow international tourists to big sporting events around the world,” observes Jan Kruger, head of Card Fraud Management at Absa.  These syndicates may be active in South Africa during the World Cup, as they were in Germany before during and after the 2006 event.

Enforcement agencies have recovered a number of card skimming devices that point to continued technological advances among criminal syndicates. The card skimming devices are being custom manufactured to fit over the card slots of certain make and model ATMs. An untrained eye will hardly notice the device attached over the ATM card slot.

“The latest trend is for these hi-tech skimming devices to be glued over the card slots of ATMs,” says Kruger. Cards are then skimmed as users insert them into the ATM. Criminal syndicates then use mini cameras – installed alongside the card skimming equipment – to steal customer PINs at the same time. “Technology means cards can be cloned instantly using portable encoding devices and laptops, and typically used at another ATM within 10 minutes,” he says. Unsuspecting cardholders are usually none the wiser. As far as they know their ATM visit has proceeded without a hitch, and they only become aware of the fraud when they notice suspicious activity on their account at a later stage.
There are a number of steps cardholders can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of card fraud.  The most effective is to remain vigilant when completing a transaction at an ATM. Steer clear of secluded ATMs and try to complete your banking transactions at a sensible time of day. If you suspect a machine has been tampered with then step away and report the problem to the nearest bank.

“Absa Card remains committed to stamping out all forms of card fraud,” concludes Kruger. “Through joint efforts with the banking industry, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) and the South African Police Force, Absa Card fraud has decreased with twenty four percent over the last eighteen months and is continuing this downward trend.”

Tips to prevent Credit Card Fraud

  • Credit and debit card users can take the following steps to aid the banks and authorities in combating credit and debit card fraud:
  • Avoid using secluded ATMs
  • Watch out for suspicious characters when transacting at ATMs
  • Never accept assistance from security guards when transacting at ATMs
  • Check the ATM for any sign of tampering before inserting your card
  • In the event your card is swallowed by the ATM, contact the bank to stop the card immediately
  • Never lose sight of your card when making payments at POS, request a handheld device wherever possible
  • Ensure you receive your own card back after making payments at POS
  • Report any suspicious transactions to your bank immediately
  • Never divulge personal account information (especially PINs) to anyone, including bank employees
  • Know your bank emergency telephone numbers
  • Protect your pin number at all times