Tips to prevent being a victim of fraud at an ATM

ATMs are the most convenient way for people to access their cash, and it is not unusual for the industry to experience peaked ATM usages during periods such as these. Unfortunately, our experience is that it is also around these busy periods when criminal elements increase their attempts to defraud unsuspecting bank clients. While all the banks in South Africa have plans in place to ensure a safe banking environment for everyone throughout this tournament, the banking industry also realises the need for their clients and foreign visitors to appreciate the implications of the World Cup festivities from a bank crime safety point of view. The industry is creating this awareness in order to prevent any post event inconveniences that may result from preventable crime.

Card skimming around ATMs remains a concern to the banks. Card skimming occurs when information stored on the magnetic strip of a legitimately issued card is stolen with a card reader. The information stolen in this manner is then used to manufacture counterfeit cards, or encoded on lost and stolen card. The most prevalent way in which bank clients’ cards are being skimmed in South Africa is through handheld skimming devices, and this usually happens after a client has allowed interruptions, or asked for help, from strangers while performing their ATM transactions.

The banking industry is also experiencing an emerging trend that involves the skimming of bank clients’ cards with sophisticated high-technology skimming devices that are attached to ATMs. Some of these devices are fitted with miniature cameras that capture clients’ PIN’s while the card is skimmed when it passes through a card reader attached to the ATM slot. While this trend is not at all prevalent in South Africa, we advise bank clients to be cautious and look out for any foreign objects attached to ATMs. Users of ATMs should also get into the practice of shielding the ATM key pad with their spare hand when keying in the card PINs, as this is one of the ways of ensuring that the PIN is not captured by cameras or prying eyes.

ATM users are advised to be vigilant and be on the lookout for people loitering around the vicinity of ATMs. It is also important to ensure that the ATM that you use is located in a well lit area.
ATM users should be sensible about the amounts of cash that they withdraw, especially if they are going to be carrying that money on their person. As a measure to prevent falling victim to cash robberies, you should never flash the amount of cash you withdrew from an ATM for all to see.

TIPS to ATM users:


– Remain aware of your surroundings without allowing anything or anyone to distract you while doing your ATM banking

– Approach an ATM only under the right conditions for your own security, be alert and conscious of your surroundings

– Choose a familiar and well-lit ATM where you are more visible and safe

– Scan the area for suspicious-looking characters before you approach the ATM

– Cancel the transaction IMMEDIATELY if you think the ATM is faulty; report the fault to your bank and try another ATM to transact

– Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM to avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue

– Be cautious of strangers offering to help as they could be trying to distract you in order to get your card or PIN details

– Report suspicious items or people around ATMs, even faults

– Do not ask anyone to assist you with your ATM transaction, not even the security guard at the ATM or a bank official. Rather go inside the bank for help

– Never accept any form of goodwill from strangers at the ATM



– Do not openly count money after making an ATM withdrawal

– Consider the convenience of electronic banking instead of carrying large sums of cash with you. Use the account transfer facility of the ATM

– Be observant of your surroundings when carrying large sums of cash. If you believe you are being followed, report to the police immediately

– Do not allow anyone to distract you and avoid social conversations with strangers when carrying large sums of cash

– Avoid informing people (even close associates) that you are going to draw or deposit money at a bank

– The amount of money you have on you should be your secret. Boasting about it may put you at risk

– Do not carry cash in bank bags, briefcases or in any manner that will make it obvious to strangers as this may make you a target of attacks

– Don’t carry more cash on you than you actually need

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