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Friday, February 1, 2008
Shoulder surfing

More ATM users throughout the country are falling victim to so-called card-skimming. Criminals employ sophisticated hand-held card-readers, or devices that are placed over ATM card slots. The devices can quickly capture data encoded on the card’s magnetic strip.

“Then, by simply peering over the victim’s shoulder - called ‘shoulder surfing’ in the industry - they are able to obtain the PIN number keyed in,” says Allen Mahadeo, General Manager: Absa Group Self Service Channel.
“With that information the syndicates create a duplicate card and empty the victim’s account . Because the client still possesses his card he none the wiser.
“The criminals use different methods to skim cards,” he notes. “In some instances they choose a site with two ATMs and jam one of the machines so a card cannot be inserted. At that point another ‘client’, busy with the other machine, invariably offers help.

“Victims are persuaded to hand the card to the “kind helper” who offers to see if it will work in the other ATM, a ruse that allows the thief to scan the targeted card with a skimming device hidden in his hand. Once read the card is inserted into the ATM and the victim instructed to enter the PIN - in full view of the thief,” says Mahadeo.
The unfortunate card-holder remains blissfully unaware a crime has been committed, often until it is too late. The technology available to thieves is incredibly sophisticated yet a few simple precautions exercised by ATM-users will stop them in their tracks, he says.
“Without the correct PIN an ATM card is useless. Card-skimmers can be defeated by simply covering the keypad so it is impossible for anyone else - or a hidden camera - to see the PIN entered.
“If there is any sort of distraction, or if the ATM operates in an unusual way, card-holders should immediately cancel the transaction and go to another ATM where they should change their personal identification number (PIN),” says Mahadeo.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:21.1 1st February, 2008
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