High-tech ATM skimming alert

NSW police have issued a warning to ATM users following the discovery of more sophisticated ATM skimming cameras used by gangs in Sydney.
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01.ATM users at risk


Police in NSW have issued a warning alerting Sydneysiders of a “marked increase” in the incidence of ATM skimming in the city since mid-January.

More than 40 ATMs have been targeted in a number of Sydney suburbs including Artarmon, Avalon, Balmain, Bexley, Bondi Junction, Burwood, Campsie, Caringbah, Chatswood, Clovelly, Dee Why, Double Bay, Dural, Gordon, Hurstville, Haymarket, Kingsford, Mona Vale, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Parramatta, Ramsgate, Rockdale, Seven Hills, Strathfield, St Ives and the Sydney CBD.

Police from the Fraud and Cybercrime Squad are investigating the incidents and believe those responsible are part of an organised group with links to eastern Europe. Police have said that the gang is likely to move to other states after their work in Sydney is complete.

“The skimming devices the group are using are capable of copying card details while a tiny video camera records people entering their personal identification numbers.

“A copy of the compromised card is then created, with all of the capabilities of the original, allowing the group to access the account holders’ funds at liberty."

What is ATM skimming?

Skimming involves the installation of several devices into an ATM: one over the card insert slot to record data from the card's magnetic strip, and another at the top of the ATM in a false panel with a pin-hole camera, to record pin numbers. The stolen information is later encoded onto blank cards and can be used at ATMs to withdraw funds from genuine bank accounts.

New wave of skimming reportedly more sophisticated than ever before

Detective Inspector Matt Craft said the cameras being used by the gang were more sophisticated than those police have previously come across in ATM scams.

While old-school cameras picked up footage only from the top of the keypad, the new cameras can pick up different angles.

Craft asked ATM users to be more vigilant with covering their hands while they typed in their PINs. "Use your wallet, your purse, a newspaper - something else so that it's covered virtually [all over] and not just the top," he said.

Signs of ATM skimming to look out for

According to Stay Smart Online (SSO), an Australian government cyber security website, modern skimming devices can be virtually undetectable when installed. The good news, according to SSO, is that many ATMs have been modified by banks to prevent the installation of skimming devices.

If you’re suspicious about an ATM, look for conspicuous edges or slight colour differences that are inconsistent with the design of the card slot.

How to keep your account safe(r)

  1. If an ATM looks like it has been tampered with, do not use it.
  2. Cover your hand and the ATM pin pad when entering your pin. 
  3. Most banks allow you to set daily limits on the amount of money that can be withdrawn through an ATM. To minimise losses in the event of fraud, consider limiting daily withdrawals to just the amount you normally withdraw.
  4. Regularly check your bank account and credit card transactions so that if you spot any suspicious withdrawals you can contact your financial institution before more money goes missing.
  5. Change your card pin regularly. This can be done at any branch of the issuing bank.

Not just an ATM issue

Skimming isn’t just an issue at the ATM – it can happen in shops, restaurants, cafes, or anywhere else you swipe your card. SSO tells consumers to be wary if a shop assistant swipes your bank or credit card through a different machine than one you are used to, or asks you to do so. Ask for your card back and consider paying with cash instead.

Report suspicious activity

If you think you have seen a card skimming scam, you should contact the bank, credit union or credit card provider that has been targeted. You should also report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page.



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