Claim: Photographs show scammers using a strip of film to steal an unsuspecting bank customer’s ATM card.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
Origins: The photographs displayed above originated with a surveillance camera at one of the branches of the Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (now RBTT) and demonstrate a variant of the “Lebanese loop”
scam, in which a type of plastic sleeve is inserted into the card slot of an ATM to trap an unsuspecting user’s card, while the scammers employ
A key point to note, however, is that these photographs are (as indicated by their timestamps) over five years old. ATM manufacturers have been continuously working on improvements over the last several years to protect against these types of fraud schemes, so the scam shown here wouldn’t necessarily be as easy to pull off now as it was back then.
Some safety precautions ATM users can employ to protect themselves from this sort of theft are as follows:
- Always shield your PIN from prying eyes. Use your body to block anyone’s view of the keypad, or cup your non-keying hand over the pad as you use it. Do this whether you’re at an ATM, a gas pump, or inside a store. (Rigging the machine to trap your card is not the only way a thief can steal your plastic. And keep in mind that scammers need your PIN to make your card work, so guard your PIN carefully.)
- Don’t use an ATM if people insist upon standing around it. Politely ask them to move aside, and if they refuse, go somewhere else.
- Don’t use any ATM that appears to be out of the ordinary. Turn up your nose at cashpoints sporting signs affixed to the machines or instruction screens asking you to do things that don’t seem right (such as entering your PIN multiple times). Report these discrepancies immediately to the bank in question or the police.
- Get into the habit of using the same ATM for almost all of your transactions so as to better recognize when something is different with the machine. Be wary of any changes you see on its outside. If the ATM is affixed to a bank, walk in and ask why the changes were made.
- Never take advice from “helpful” strangers about how to get your card back if an ATM keeps it. Report a machine-trapped card to your bank as soon as possible so that the card can be deactivated if it was not kept for legitimate reasons.
Last updated: 11 December 2006