Watch Out for Shoulder Surfers

  • Categories: Fraud

The number of people becoming victims of ATM fraud is on the rise.

For example, Bank of America’s ATMs currently require the customer to insert his/her card and once read, it is immediately returned. The customer enters his/her PIN, completes the transaction, gets the cash and walks away.

Apparently unbeknownst to the customer, the account remains open while the screen displays a message asking if the customer wants to conduct another transaction. There is a several second delay before the account closes.

Meanwhile, the suspect, who stands a few feet away, immediately rushes the ATM and hits “Yes” to continue.

The ATM requires the PIN to be re-entered before the next transaction. The suspect has it because he/she looked over the shoulder of the customer while it was first entered.

The suspect then withdraws the maximum amount from the customer’s account.

To avoid becoming a victim, make sure when you are done with your transactions at the ATM that you don’t leave the ATM until your transaction session is completely finished.

Here are some other tips to stay safe:

  • Stand close to the ATM. Always shield the keypad with your free hand and your body to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN. This will protect your PIN from anyone who might be looking over your shoulder, and also help to keep it safe if a hidden camera has been set up to film the keypad.
  • Be alert. If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another ATM. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.
  • Scammers sometimes fit devices to ATMs that trap your card, which they then retrieve as soon as you have left the area. If your card is captured by the ATM for any reason, report it to your financial institution immediately, ideally using your cell phone while you are still in front of the ATM. Make sure you have your financial institution’s 24 hour contact number stored in your cell phone.
  • If you spot anything unusual about the ATM, or there are signs of tampering, do not use it. Report it to the credit union/bank immediately.
  • Once you are finished with your transaction put your money and card away before leaving the ATM. Destroy or preferably shred your ATM receipts, mini-statements or balance inquiries when you throw them away.