Questions of Cash: Tell me what I should look for if crooks have rigged up an ATM
Saturday 25 May 2013
Q: You answered a reader’s letter (Questions of Cash, 11 May) on a fraud committed at an HBOS ATM, where a “skimming device” was fitted to the front of the machine. The victim was obviously unaware of this, but apparently a subsequent customer was as they reported it to the branch when it reopened after the weekend. I have no idea what to look for and many other readers will be similarly uninformed. Please enlighten us! IM, by email.
A: Devices attached to the front of ATMs are almost impossible to detect, which is why customers can be easily caught out. We do not know how one of HBOS’s customers did spot the device in this instance, or why they only chose to report it in the branch after the weekend, rather than phoning HBOS to warn it during the weekend. We are told by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFAUK) – which speaks on behalf of the industry – that on this occasion it was probably not a skimmer but a card-entrapment device.
Its spokeswoman explained: “If your card is skimmed then the criminal needs to connect his device to a laptop, review the PINs from his camera bar and make up counterfeit cards. The counterfeit cards are then usually used in a non-EMV environment. [EMV stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa – market leaders in debit and credit-card technology.] Cards trapped inside ATMs by criminals are almost always used at a nearby ATM immediately afterwards. It is not uncommon for the term ‘skimming’ to be incorrectly used for other forms of ATM crime.”
Card-entrapment devices are “virtually impossible” for a customer to detect. The FFAUK spokeswoman continued: “A device is glued into the card throat of the ATM. The trap normally utilises a piece of retractable tape measure and a razor blade. The razor blade holds onto the embossing on the card preventing it from being returned to the customer. A camera is also used with this device to capture the customer’s PIN. A customer puts their card into the ATM and enters their PIN. They then select the amount of cash they wish to withdraw and wait for their card to be returned. The device prevents the card from being returned and eventually the machine shuts down and the customer walks away. The criminal will then return to the machine, prise out their device with the customer’s card and take down the camera. They will then review the camera to obtain the PIN and now they have the customer’s card and their PIN. The first thing they will then do is to carry out a balance enquiry at a nearby ATM followed by the maximum withdrawal.”
The news is not much better with a actual skimming device. The spokeswoman explained: “Card skimming is the term used to describe the fitting of an electronic device to an ATM normally attached to the card throat to capture data from the magnetic stripe of the card. The device will either be fitted on the outside of the machine, in a housing made to replicate part of the actual machine, or inside the ATM itself. The devices are often fairly sophisticated and very difficult to spot. They can be attached to the ATM for some time depending on the battery life and size of the memory. Once in place, the device will potentially capture large numbers of card data.
“Criminals will also fit a camera, in conjunction with the skimming device to capture the customer’s PIN. This camera is often a mobile phone set, recording video footage and placed inside some housing with the lens looking through a pin hole. The housing of the camera is also made to look part like part of the machine and also often difficult to spot. The camera is normally placed above the PIN pad looking directly down onto it.”
The advice from FFAUK is not to look for devices, but instead to focus on shielding the PIN. Devices are very difficult to detect and taking action to remove a device could put the customer at risk from the nearby fraudsters, who may be ruthless in recovering a removed device. FFARUK adds that customers should always carry the 24-hour phone number of their card issuer to enable them to report the retention of a card.
Q: Three years ago, I ordered a mobile phone from 3. After a week it had not arrived, I phoned them, was told it had not yet been despatched and so 3 agreed to cancel my order.
I later found a card at home saying the phone was at my local post office awaiting collection. I phoned 3 to remind them I had cancelled the order, but 3 continued collecting payments from my account for 10 months. After repeated phone calls 3 stopped collecting the money and told me to recover the funds from a bank indemnity claim, which I did. I was promised by 3 that this was the end of the matter. But now debt collection agency Lowell is seeking to recover these funds, a total of £229.38. Jo, London.
A: Lowell ceased debt recovery action as soon as it became aware of the situation. A spokeswoman for Lowell said: “We bought this account from 3 in January in good faith as a valid debt requiring repayment and wrote to [the reader] thereafter. 3 have now confirmed that the account has been closed. 3 have also made a goodwill gesture payment.”
We asked 3 for a comment, but its spokeswoman would only say: “3 has resolved the issue with the customer.”
You tell us that 3 has agreed to pay you £100 compensation and ensure that your credit status is unaffected.
Q&A: What’s the best way to invest for our baby?
Crowd-to-let: How crowdfunding sites can give investors a slice of the property market for £500
Simon Read: 'Seven Families campaign offers an escape from financial and emotional distress'
General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances
Motorists will need a code to hire a car abroad
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Russell Brand backs Ed Miliband: 'You gotta vote Labour'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...
Day In a Page
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park