Your ATM Card, Treat It With Care

I guard myself from debit card fraud. Most of the time, the folks perpetuating the con do not even need to resort to elaborate means to pull it off. I was standing at an ATM off-base recently and a Sailor left with a handful of money. Except he did not finish the transaction. So the machine, with his data, was open to me.

Early on in my Navy career, I noticed there was a tone of voice that seniors gave to juniors. As a way to haze them verbally. But also as a means to make it painful, so they will think twice about facing the ramifications again. So I asked the young, dumb Sailor. Hey, you just gonna leave the machine open? Your not going to exit out of it? Stupidly, he returned and logged-off. What if I were not there? Sure, the Japanese locals are honest to a fault. But still. . .

And for the second incident, I was at one of the excellent vending machines on-base. (Bottles of green tea are my kryptonite.) I grabbed two of them and started back up on my base run. And as I jogged past the ATM, sure enough, some clown did the exact same thing. He did not exit out of his transaction. It is possible that with the on-base machines, you must enter in your PIN again, but I was not sure. So I exited out for him and ran him down. Hey, you just gonna go around leavin’ your debit account open for anyone? Once again, sheepish was on the plan-of-the-day. Whoops, he replied.

Care is needed when using an ATM. There are conmen out there lurking:

“Hello, Mr. Welch. Visa Card Services here.” That was how my nightmare started one Sunday morning. I was hungover, sitting on the sofa, when the landline rang. I was surprised because I’d only given the number to about three people. The person on the other end of the phone, Mark, told me there had been a number of fraudulent transactions on my bank account since midnight, adding up to about 1,100 pounds ($1,663). I’d never heard of Visa Card Services before, but then, I’d never had money stolen like this before. Maybe this is what happens?

Mark then confirmed the last genuine withdrawal I’d made, at the Barclays bank opposite Highbury & Islington station in London. He gave me a reference number and told me to ring the telephone number on the back of my card. I did just that, quoted the reference number, and was able to speak with someone who knew all about the supposed fraud. These cunning tricksters had apparently cloned my card at the Barclay’s ATM, then treated themselves to a few things in the Apple Store. Something didn’t ring true about the whole thing—why would someone with a stolen card only spend 400 pounds (about $600) in the Apple Store, for starters? Still, I watch enough alarmist consumer-affairs TV,—the kind of program presented in the U.K. by an estuary gargoyle named Dominic Littlewood—to know that these things happen.

The person now helping me, Rajesh Khan in HSBC’s card protection department, had all my details: full name, date of birth, and crucially, my address. When he said a courier was on the way to collect my card for further examination, I didn’t need to tell him where I lived. I initially flinched at the idea, but when Rajesh explained that the bank’s fraud team needed to analyze the chip, it made sense. After all, I’d phoned the bank myself—this was no cold call, and he had all my details already. That’s probably also why I typed my PIN number into my telephone keypad of my phone when Rajesh asked me to.

You gotta pay attention. . .

6 thoughts on “Your ATM Card, Treat It With Care

  1. I use my debit care religiously… but I also tack my card several times a day. I take the receipts and enter them into an Excel spreadsheet (my check recorder and check it with my bank account. If there is a charge on my account that I did not make, a phone call is made. Only once, but it worked. Also, if I am out of town and use my card more than usual (more the twice a day at the Waffle House) a hold in automatically put on the card until I call and tell them I am in so-and-so city and the charges are okay. If one is going to use the card, one HAS to be vigilant.

  2. Scammers ARE getting better. And you’re right a lot of the machines will just keep ringing up transactions. At least NFCU and Community Bank require you to re-enter your PIN if you want another transaction. But it’s STILL a better idea to exit them.

  3. And that’s exactly why I have Lifelock…they do what I expect a company who protects their customers do by informing them when new accounts are formed and opened….I opened a new account at Dillard’s to purchase some kitchen furniture last week and was asked if that was me on my email as I arrived home…they’re on the job..,I like that aspect of someone looking out for me…there are those who would take advantage but I’ve seen ATMs usually pull the card back in if the transaction either isn’t continued or it’s left open like that…and that’s happened to me on a number of occasions…people can be forgetful…we all can….especially if we juggle more than one thought at a time in our absent-minded heads….but I guess we needn’t go there really….k

  4. My elderly mom has been the target for telephone scams at least three times in the last couple of years. Usually someone calls telling her they need her bank routing number. Once they told her that it was her grandson and he was in jail in Mexico. Fortunately another grandson happened to be with her and would not let her give out the info. Next time they used the grandson thing again, but said they were in Canada and had been in a wreck. Then once they claimed to be some bank person in need of the number. She has come close to giving them the info. Then there are the legit companies that call her and get her to order things that Medicare will pay for. Then they call her doctor and say that she has ordered it. He okays it, and she gets some useless equipment. We did have a talk with her doctor about that, but it is crazy stuff.

    • And you know what, Lou…that happened to me once while I was here…and it had to do with my neighbor across the way in Connecticut….I got an email from people claiming to be those neighbors asking for money; that they were stranded over in Britain, without any money, lost their passports and on and on….for a moment I believed it, but then I received some advice and decided to call them at home….well, they weren’t in England…and the people perpetrating this scam and it was one, knew just enough about my neighbors and me to make an attempt to deceive me….I got one more email and I ignored it…ridiculous garbage…I don’t believe anything anymore….nothing…k

  5. CP: Very smart to track your card so closely. I do the same.
    Old NFO: Apparently Community Bank is partnered with B of A which does the same.
    Lou: That happened to my grandmother and she sent out 20K to some shady folks. It was terrible.
    Kris: I’ve gotten that email before! From two different friends. . .

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