Last month, the Reserve Bank of India directed banks to upgrade their ATMs in the wake of rising fraud complaints. In its order, the RBI asked banks to implement a plethora of security measures by August 2018 and upgrade ATMs with updated versions of operating systems in a phased manner by June 2019.
“The slow progress on the part of the banks in addressing these issues has been viewed seriously by the RBI. As you may appreciate, the vulnerability arising from the banks’ ATMs operating on unsupported version of operating system and non-implementation of other security measures, could potentially affect the interests of the banks’ customers adversely, apart from such occurrences, if any, impinging on the image of the bank,” read the RBI’s circular.
By March 2019, banks are expected to implement anti-skimming and whitening solutions. Skimmers are devices that fraudsters use over the card slot of the ATM to gather user information, which they subsequently use to clone your card. Meanwhile, anti-whitelisting solutions only permit trusted applications to work on ATMs and block any other application.
Besides, the RBI asked banks and White-Label ATM Operators to “implement security measures such as BIOS password, disabling USB ports, disabling auto-run facility, applying the latest patches of operating systems and other software, terminal security solution, time-based admin access, etc.,” in their ATMs before August 2018.
These are essential directives for a country with 2.06 lakh ATMs.
Inability to implement these measures within the specified timeline will compel the RBI to punish banks under Banking Regulation Act, 1949 and/or Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
Instead of waiting for banks to do their due diligence and fix these problems, as ordinary citizens we can take some precautionary measures. Why wait for the banks or the government to address an issue that has the potential to rob you of your hard-earned money?
Here are 11 things you can do to avoid ATM fraud:
1) The cardinal rule of withdrawing cash from an ATM is to ensure no one else is inside the booth. If a customer is inside, wait for them to finish up. If people are loitering, ask them to leave the booth.
2) If you’re in a tearing hurry to withdraw cash, take a minute to look for any hidden cameras above the machine before starting your transaction. Fraudsters put these cameras up to read your ATM pin, which they then use to clone your card, using very cheap equipment. If not anything else, cover the keypad with your hand before you punch in your pin.
3) Some banks have taken further steps to tackle the menace of hidden cameras by installing a ‘PIN shield’ which covers both sides of the number pad, where you punch your PIN. However, fraudsters have taken things to the next level by installing hidden cameras under the flaps. So, take a few seconds to put your hand under the flaps to check for any hidden cameras. If anything seems out of place or you spot a wireless camera that’s visible to you, avoid using that ATM altogether.
4) There are occasions when out of convenience you visit an ATM that is unfamiliar. You might be in another city or in another part of town to purchase specific items. A better practice would entail using ATMs that are near your place of residence or office, or those attached to a bank branch.
Also, avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs in remote street corners that are poorly lit or maintained. Find one that is well maintained and brightly lit.
5) Before you begin your transaction, carefully check the card reader. If something seems amiss, tug at the card reader and see if a skimmer is attached to the card reader. Fast forward to 6:02 to get the low down on how card skimmers work.
6) Before starting any transaction, also check the slot from where the cash comes out. If something seems amiss, avoid using that ATM.
7) There are occasions when you’re busy and need urgent cash. Often, you end up giving your card to someone in the family to withdraw some money for you.
Banks and security experts have long advised customers not to give your card and PIN details to anyone, irrespective of your relationship with that person. According to a recent ruling by a Bengaluru consumer court, giving your friend or family member access to your ATM PIN is a serious violation. Your ATM card is non-transferable, and no other person other than yourself should use it.
8) Regularly check your bank balance. Yes, banks are obligated to send an SMS detailing how much money is left in your account in the event of a transaction. Also, most banks have apps, through which you can continuously monitor your balance.
9) For first time users of ATMs, the temptation is to take assistance from someone standing behind you in a line. Many fraudsters stand around ATMs acting like helpful citizens. However, refrain from taking aid from outsiders. There is enough material available online on how to transact, and if you desperately need assistance, speak to a bank official. Some fraudsters pretending to be helpful use your card, memorise your PIN and then swap your card for a fake before you know it.
10) During transactions, stand as close as possible to the ATM using your body to hide all the details you punch into the machine. While this may seem obvious advice, many users don’t follow it.
11) After completing your transaction, quickly count your cash and press the ‘Cancel’ button or wait till the ATM screen shows the ‘Welcome’ page before you leave. This ensures the completion of your transaction.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)