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ENISA Warns Of Alarming Increase In ATM Crime

Annual cash machine losses in Europe reached a staggering E500 million

With the annual cost of ATM crime in Europe approaching half a billion Euros, ENISA, the European Network and Information Security Agency, is urging consumers to be more aware of the risks and take precautions to avoid personal loss. Reportedly, the rapid growth in the number of ATMs, combined with more sophisticated attacks and fraud, has resulted in an alarming 149% rise in ATM attacks in 2008.

These worrying findings, along with information and case studies highlighting the different ATM crimes and recommendations to help detect and prevent them, are published in a paper by ENISA entitled ATM Crime: Overview of the European situation and golden rules on how to avoid it.

The paper recommends that further information and advice are to be provided nationally in EU member states by banks, financial institutions, payment schemes and law enforcement agencies. As part of this process, ENISA has drawn up its list of Golden Rules to offer maximum protection with minimum effort.

These rules include – Don’t use ATMs with extra signage or warnings; Try to use ATMs inside banks; Don’t use freestanding ATMs; Use an ATM which is in clear view and well lit; Be cautious of strangers and check they are at a reasonable distance away; Pay careful attention to the front of the machine for tampering; Pay attention to the card reader for signs of additional devices; Look carefully for differences or unusual characteristics of the ATM’s PIN pad; Look out for extra cameras; Protect your PIN by standing close to the ATM and shielding the key pad; Report confiscated cards immediately; Beware of ATMs that don’t dispense cash and non-bank ATMs that don’t charge fees; Frequently review your account statements; and Report any suspicious activity immediately.

Andrea Pirotti, executive director at 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.”