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BETTER WATCH OUT

Shoppers warned of new ATM scam that sees thieves steal your PIN and drain account

SHOPPERS are being warned about a new ATM scam that has seen victims' bank accounts drained of money before Christmas.

The con involves a new distraction technique where crooks steal the PIN of unsuspecting victims.

Be careful when using cash machines over the Christmas season
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Credit: Getty - Contributor Be careful when using cash machines over the Christmas season Credit: Getty-Contributor

Scammers work in pairs to pull off the deception, with the first fraudster approaching an ATM where their victim is standing.

The crook then makes a note of their PIN before dropping money and tapping the victim on the arm.

They then pretend to hand over the cash and falsely claim the cash machine isn't working.

While the victim is distracted, the second thief cancels the current transaction and steals their card.

How to protect yourself from ATM fraud

Banking trade body UK Finance has the following advice to protect yourself from ATM fraud:

  • Stand close to the cash machine. 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 your PIN safe if a fraudster has set up a hidden camera that is filming the keypad.
  • Be alert and put your personal safety first. If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.
  • Don't leave the ATM if your card is sucked in. Fraudsters sometimes fit devices to cash machines that trap your card, which they then retrieve as soon as you have left the area. If your card is retained by the machine for any reason, report it to your card company immediately, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine. Make sure you have your card company's 24 hour contact number stored in your mobile phone. You should also freeze your card using your card issuer's app if they provide this service.
  • Don't use dodgy machines. If you spot anything unusual about the cash machine, or there are signs of tampering, do not use it. Report it to the bank concerned immediately.
  • Destroy mini statements. Once you have completed a transaction put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine. Destroy or preferably shred your cash machine receipts, mini-statements or balance enquiries when you dispose of them.

This leaves the victim assuming the machine has swallowed their card when in fact it's been stolen, according to the Express .

The Metropolitan Police is urging shoppers to stay alert during the busy Christmas period especially when withdrawing money for gifts.

To keep your cash safe, the Met advises consumers to keep their PIN covered at all times when using an ATM.

If someone taps you on the shoulder or tries to distract you, just ignore them, the Met says.

You should also put your card away straight after using a cash machine.

In an advice page on its website, the Met said: "We know it's not always easy, but try to be aware of anyone near you when you're at an ATM.

"Being aware of your surroundings and not being distracted makes it harder for people to take advantage and less likely that they'll try to."

Action Fraud told The Sun: "If your card is not returned to you by an ATM after use or you check your bank statement and see something suspicious, inform your bank as soon as possible."

Here's what you should look out for at an ATM and how you can tell if one has been tampered with.

HSBC has rolled out an ATM update to make it harder for fraudsters to steal your cash.

Meanwhile one in ten UK adults rarely use cash due to the rise of contactless and mobile banking .

Listen to the scary HMRC scam where fraudsters claim there's a warrant out for your arrest
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