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Police issue cashpoint scam warning

ATM machine
Police say there has been a sharp increase in cashpoint crime with users falling foul of two particular scams being carried out by thieves in Hertfordshire at the moment - Welwyn Hatfield is said to be the county's black spot for such crimes.

Officers say there were more than 40 such crimes in Hertfordshire in three weeks in October. In 2001 there were 28 crimes for the whole year.

In the first scam, thieves use a device which they place inside the ATM machine. This then traps the victimís card. Police say the offender will often stand behind the user and encourage them to type in their PIN number. Once the victim has left, the criminal removes the device and is then able to use the card with the PIN number.

According to police the second method involves the cloning of card. This is done while the victim is distracted, often by the thief asking for change or pointing to money on the floor. Once the card has been copied, the original card is replaced in the machine. Police say the victim often has no idea anything has happened until their next bank statement arrives.

Herts police say 49% of the incidents in the county have been reported in Welwyn Hatfield. Police have also received numerous reports of suspicious incidents or devices being found in machines.

To avoid becoming a victim of cashpoint crime, police advise ATM users to:

  • Be extra vigilant when using cash machines to withdraw money
  • Be aware of people standing behind you
  • Donít allow yourself to be distracted, especially after you have inserted your card and PIN
  • If you feel that anything suspicious has happened while you have been withdrawing cash, report it to the police straight away
  • If a machine retains your card, DONíT walk away and leave it unattended. Make contact with your bank immediately to establish why your card has been retained. If there is no reasonable explanation, ask the bank to cancel your card and contact police.

November 15, 2002

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