How to protect yourself from ATM skimming

From a report by Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2014 08:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 07 2014 05:16 PM

MANILA - Automated teller machine (ATM) users are urged to be more careful when making withdrawals following several incidents of unauthorized withdrawals linked to "skimming."

Rene Natividad, vice president for operations for Bancnet, said skimming is a method used by thieves to illegally capture information from ATM cards using a small device.

“Skimming would involve ang pagkuha ng card information. Kapag pinasok mo ang ATM card sa card slot, mayroon siyang gadget copying the magnetic stripe,” he said.

Scammers also use fake keypads and small cameras to retrieve PINs of ATM users.

“If you manufacture a cloned card, worthless ‘yan without the PIN. So how do they do they get the PIN? They have a camera above the ATM na kinokopya nila ang PIN strokes mo,” said Natividad.

Carol Chua, chairperson for the Internetwork Antifraud Committee, said skimming is not unique to one bank, and any bank can fall victim to the scam.

Scammers target banks that have just finished conducting a maintenance check or branches that have no security presence.

“Pagkatapos mag-checkup ang mga bangko saka sila babalik, ikakabit ‘yung kanilang mga gadgets,” said Natividad.

To avoid being a victim of skimming, Chua advised ATM users to be “equally vigilant” when using the machines.

ATM transactions should only be done in branches that are well-lit and with a security guard present.

ATMs should also be checked for a “PIN shield” and for small devices that may be used to capture data.

Regularly changing PINs will also help ward off ATM scammers.

Recently, a client of the Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI) lost P60,000 from unauthorized withdrawals.

The victim, Katrina Ocampo, said she withdrew money from a BPI branch in BF Homes Paranaque on July 27. But after three days, only P5,000 were left in her account, which had P65,000.

“Nakita ko na lang noong July 30, P5,000 nalang siya, so siyempre takang taka ako kung bakit P5,000 na lang eh di naman ako nagwi-withdraw,” she said.

Ortigas said her money was returned by the bank after five days.

BPI has admitted receiving reports of “abnormal transactions” in its ATM in Paranaque and urged its clients to report any suspicious incidents.

The House committee on banks, meanwhile, said it will look into the alleged ATM scam involving unauthorized withdrawals.