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ATM fraud continues to climb as consumers warned over risks and potential losses

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Consumers have been warned to be more aware of the risks around ATM crime.

A report by the European network and information security agency ENISA found that annual cash machine losses in Europe is approaching €500 million, with a total of 10,302 skimming incidents reported in Europe in 2008, a 149 per cent rise in ATM attacks.

The ENISA paper, entitled ‘ATM Crime: Overview of the European situation and golden rules on how to avoid it' recommends that further information and advice are provided nationally in EU Member States by banks, financial institutions, payment schemes and law enforcement agencies.

It has suggested a list of ‘Golden Rules' to offer maximum protection with minimum effort. These include: not using an ATM that has extra signage or warnings, is freestanding or out of sight; look carefully for differences or unusual characteristics of the PIN pad; beware of ATMs that do not dispense cash and non-bank ATMs that do not charge fees; and pay attention to the front of the machine for tampering and the card reader for signs of additional devices.

Andrea Pirotti, executive director of ENISA, said: “ATMs are attractive to criminals because they contain bank notes, while the bank cards themselves give thieves access to customers' bank accounts.

“Looking ahead, ATM crime is likely to become even more attractive as the latest generation of ATMs is designed to dispense other services and products such as phone top-ups and stamps. The first line of defence against ATM crime is increasing awareness of the risks so that users can take simple precautions such as shielding their PIN when entering it and by keeping alert to any signs of tampering or suspicious activity at an ATM.”

Pirotti further claimed that information security has been focusing on technical solutions to maximise protection for too long, and cardholders should be more aware of the risks they are exposed to and how to prevent fraud occurring.

William Beer, director and head of OneSecurity at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: “Individuals need to understand that rather than being a technology issue, changes in their behaviour are fundamental to combating ATM crime.

“Banks need to be aware that these increased attacks through both internet banking and ATM channels will further shake consumer confidence in the banking system. Investment in security must be treated as top priorities as savvy customers will start identifying and using banks that have visibly focused on improving consumer protection.”

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