ATM Scams: The Latest Christmas Crime

FESTIVE SHOPPERS in Dumfries and Galloway are being warned against the latest ATM scams hitting high streets across Scotland this Christmas and New Year’s.


The Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC) has issued a call for extra vigilance when withdrawing cash over one of the busiest periods of the year for shopping.


Over £11 billion is expected to be withdrawn by the public this winter, and fraudsters will be looking to target unsuspecting shoppers by tampering with ATMs.


Mark Anderson, Business Resilience Adviser, said: “Christmas and New Years are opportunistic times for criminals – almost every one of us will go to take out cash from an ATM at some point over the festive period.
“Criminals and scammers can manipulate ATMs in the most discreet ways – you might not even notice any difference or danger. Alongside physically tampering with ATMs, another tactic scammers use is to distract shoppers mid-transaction.”


SBRC has published a handy guide to show shoppers the four tell-tale signs that an ATM may have been affected:


  • Hidden cameras: shield the keypad when entering a PIN number as pinhole cameras can be placed anywhere on the machine.
  • Skimming devices: bulky covers might be evidence of a skimming device which records card details. If there is a bulky cover over the card slot, and if it becomes loose or falls off, the ATM should not be used.
  • False fronts: if the PIN pad feels spongy or if the frontage moves when shaken, this may be a sign that it is fake. To draw more victims to a false ATM, criminals may also place paper, rather than electronic, ‘out of order’ signs on working ATMs to force them to find their rigged alternative.
  • Distractions: if a card becomes stuck in a machine, don’t fall into the trap of becoming distracted. Contact the card provider to cancel the card immediately.


Mark continued: “It really helps to use ATMs in daylight only, if at all possible. It’s also important to have your card ready, cover your pin with your hand, and make sure nobody is around looking over your shoulder.
“If you’re ever unsure about the safety of an ATM, it’s important to leave the machine alone and report it to Police Scotland on 101.”


SBRC’s full guide about ATM fraud is available at https://www.sbrcentre.co.uk/news/2019/december/atm-fraud-how-to-tell-if-a-cashpoint-has-been-tampered-with/


Warnings such as this from the SBRC help to maintain Scotland’s status as a safe place to work and do businesses, online and offline.


The Scottish Business Resilience Centre is a non-profit organisation which exists to support and help protect Scottish businesses. Its unique connection to Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Government gives it exclusive access to the latest information to advise citizens and businesses how to interact safely.

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