Thursday, 22 March 2012

ATM frauds in Uttarakhand: Things you should do to Protect yourself

Written by Anil Singh

Everyday, we read about ATM frauds in Uttarakhand. These frauds are primarily of the following types:

1) Some person not authorized to withdraw money though an ATM card or Debit card; withdraws money from a bank account through a debit card, in collusion with some bank employee. The Debit card owner remains unawares of this transaction.

2) A person with bad intention, offers help to a debit card owner, who is experiencing difficulty in operating the card. Here, the person takes the card from the owner, on the pretext of helping him/her, asks for pin, asks for money to be withdrawn, successfully withdraws the money, hands the money to the card owner; and returns the card to its owner. But here is the trick -- As part of the modus operandi, the helpful person doesn't return the person his/her own card, but some cancelled card he has in his pocket. The card owner happily pockets or bags the card; thanks the helpful stranger and leaves. The helpful stranger, with a plan, then takes out the said person's card; and withdraws money from it.

By the time, the card owner realizes that the card he/she is having is not his/her; the damage is already done.

3) A card holder, possibly a person, who doesn't live with his family; gives his debit card to the family to use. Here, all family members, including school going kids, know the debit card PIN, as the wife doesn't have time to withdraw money on each occasion. How this debit card happens, will tell later in the article.

Thank, the very professional and honest Banking system in India; the ATM card or Debit card fraud of the first type are extremely rare. Hence, You as a debit card holder, can have a deaf ear to it.

The fraud of the Second Type, is more prevalent.

Here are tips to save your self from becoming victim to this fraud:

1) Learn how to use Debit card -- preferably from your bank, the ATM security guard; or your kids, but only when they are adults.

2) When at ATM, follow 'only one person inside' Rule. If there are women, and there's along queue, take initiative for a separate queue for ladies. This will help, if your sister, wife or mom visits ATMs too. When you are inside ATM and someone tries to barge it; politely ask him/her to wait outside (Never go into an argument in such a situation, it distracts you and you are likely to make mistake like leaving the card on the console, or commit mistake in counting the money).

3) When in a queue; have patience for the person inside the ATM -- He/she may not be that fluent with the debit card use or is a new card holder or has to conduct two or three transactions. You patience, will not only help that person, but also those standing in the queue. You in a way, is making ATM rules for others to follow.

4) If a person experiences difficulty in using his/her car -- NEVER offer help; instead suggest his/her to approach either the bank, the security personnel for assistance. But make sure, you hand over your card or pin even to these people. Ask him/her to guide you, with you taking each action on your own.

5)When making a transaction in an ATM -- Remain calm. Don't bother too much if you struggle -- you will be better the next time.

6) Make it a habit of focusing on four things, before leaving an ATM: A) Cash counted matches what you withdrew B) ATM or debit card has your Name on it B) ATM or Debit card is put back into the bag/pocket D) Cash is safely put inside the bag or pocket.

7) If you are planning to withdraw sizable among of money from an ATM or a bank; make sure to go for that purpose only. Never include 'Withdrawing money' among other chores like paying electricity bill, buying groceries. Remember, the more distance and the more places you visit with cash; the more are the chances of it getting lost. In addition, if withdrawing sizable cash, then don't go alone -- take someone with you. This will help, if you meet with some minor accident on road, which for small time distracts you.

Now let I come to the fraud of the third kind, which I promised to share with you later:

Although newspaper and TV reports, always attribute the second type of fraud, in every ATM fraud case in Uttarakhand. Let I inform you that, it's the fraud of second type which accounts for most ATM frauds. This fraud is:

3) A card holder, possibly a person, who doesn't live with his family; gives his debit card to the family to use. Here, all family members, including school going kids, know the debit card PIN, as the wife doesn't have time to withdraw money on each occasion.

This happens mainly with Army personnel in Uttarakhand. Naive of the wisdom of 'civilian life'; an army man gives a card and its PIN to his wife, who in good faith tells the PIN to school going or young kids. Children, whether they be in Civil or Army families; don't have much discretion to handle money. this when couples with bad company; makes these kids misuse the ATM card, Withdrawing small amounts, without asking the mother. When father returns from his unit, and checks his account via ATM, he is clueless on where the money went or who withdrew the money. He takes his wife's word, who herself has not withdrew the money and has great faith on kids. The man assumes an ATM card fraud of second type.

I'm witness to this kind of ignorance on the apart of Army wife on two occasions. Let I share one with you. I was standing outside an ATM; when a man in his late forties, asked me whether I can tell him how he can see 'Last few transactions made via his ATM', he also informed me that he is an army man and suspects something. I told him the procedure, by peeking in from the door while standing outside; and he got the details of 'last 5 transactions'. He brought the slip to me, and asked me explain the list to him. I told him the date of the transactions and the withdrawn amount. The transactions were all small amounts like: 500, 1000, 500 etc. aggregating to around 3000+ rupees.

Call it the naivety or the honesty of the army man; when I asked him, who he suspects -- He instantly said, his "just out of school and college going son". When his wife objected and tried to defend the son, he snapped at her saying, -- 'Tune nahin nikale, toh Usne hi nikale, uske alava yeh pin kisi ko nahin pata; main tujhe bol hi raha tha ki use gadi nahin dilate'. Gadi here meant bike.

The army man was smart enough to pin down at the right person. But, many people are not realizing this. All over the world this kind of fraud is most prevalent, wherein some person, the card holder has undying faith on, be it his kid, girlfriend, wife or friend, is the culprit.

Some Dos and Donts to protect yourself from ATM fraud:

1) Don't write ATM PIN on the card (Surprisingly some people do that)
2) Memorize the ATM PIN
3) ATM PIN is a personal tool; it works best if only the card holder knows the PIN.

Before concluding: Keep in mind that a Fraudster can be woman as well.

Happy Banking!


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