ATM Thefts and ATM Scams
ATM thefts and ATM money scams are unfortunately very real and are very devastating to the victim of these horrible crimes. The organization Global ATM Security Alliance reportedly states that out of all of the crimes and frauds committed worldwide, about .0016% of them are ATM transactions. Everything to do with money theft from stolen checks, to stolen credit cards to having your ATM debit card stolen is unnerving and unsettling. In the end, you often feel very violated because something very personal has been taken away from you.
ATM card thefts are very common because unlike credit cards, thieves can easily use them since they give them access instantaneously to your cash, without the need for authorization or a signature, like with a credit card. A pin number is all that a money thief needs to access your ATM card, and in some cases, they can still access your bank account without it. If they’re shopping online or through a retailer who doesn’t require any identification verification, the thief can simply produce the ATM card and access your money or use the card to purchase goods or services.
What kinds of ATM scams are there?
Is it just your ATM card in danger, or your entire bank account?
What can you do to protect yourself from these scams and theft situations?
Fake, Fake, Fake
When it comes to ATM access, thieves will try just about anything to gain access to your money. A fake ATM machine and/or a fake PIN pad are just two things they will try and use to do this. Thieves may use a wireless video camera that’s mounted inside of the ATM area that’s looks as harmless as perhaps a brochure holder or a shelf. The tiny camera hidden inside of this contraption is actually recording the numbers from your ATM card. Magnetic strips are easy to duplicate, and once the thieves have your information from your card, they can have another ATM easily reproduced.
Stop the possibility of this happening by paying close attention to your surroundings. Get into and make it a habit of going to and using the same ATM machine for all of your cash transactions. By doing this, you’ll become familiar with the machine, its surroundings, and you’ll start to notice when (or if) there are any changes with the machine, especially if the owner of the machine hasn’t published any notices or information about there being any changes.
Shoulder Surfing and Skimming
It’s bound to happen at least once; the machine eats your ATM card. Your first reaction is to go into the bank to report it, or if it’s after business hours, you may leave the ATM machine and wait to report it later. Although this does and can happen, there are a couple of other things to notice if this scenario takes place:
- Are there other people around you, waiting to use the machine, and offer to “help” you retrieve your ATM card?
- The Good Samaritan who offers to “help” you encourages you to keep entering your PIN number to try and retrieve the card.
- Your ATM withdrawal gets “stuck” in the tray, and the stranger offers to stay there and guard it while you go and get help.
An external device is used here to gain your ATM information. The thief may have placed a blocking device into the ATM card machine that traps your card and/or your money. The blocking device may be something as simple as glued film that captures and traps the ATM cards. When customers use the machine and enter their PIN’s, there may be thieves nearby watching and mentally recording their PIN number so they can access it later, after the customer has given up in frustration and walked away.
This type of scam is also known as shoulder surfing or skimming, and unfortunately is also very common. Never rely on the assistance of a complete stranger to help you retrieve your ATM card or to watch the cash tray for you. You should also never use or transact any information around an ATM machine where people are loitering and lingering around for no apparent reason. Busy areas will understandably have high foot traffic, but watch for ATM machine traffic where people are watching the machine, and watching the people who use the machine.
Money thieves and ATM theft will likely not go away any time soon, but individuals can and should do all that’s possible to decrease the possibility of fraud and scams. With a little attention to details and taking the steps to protect your financial privacy, you can do what’s necessary to avoid ATM scams and keep thieves from accessing your money.Read More
If you have an ATM business, then you’ve already done your research and found it to be one of the most lucrative businesses you could have chosen to be in. The ATM business is easy to manage and operate, and you’re all but guaranteed a profit from your customers…that is, those that can find your machines.
A lot of the problem that most ATM owners face is finding ideal locations to put their cash machines. It may seem that this is a no-brainer since everybody at one time or another needs to get to an ATM machine. Surprisingly however, there are some business owners who are often surprised by the lack of traffic that their machines often get. Is this lack of traffic due to location, visibility, dependability or availability?
Yes, yes, yes, and yes!
Cash machine owners must understand that customers who frequent ATM machines are those who need convenience and flexibility. If your machines are in the right place, at the right time, and at the right locations, then your profits are all but guaranteed, and a happy customer you will make!
Although it may not seem or sound like a big enough deal, but location is crucial to the success of your ATM cash business. There are definitely good spots AND bad spots where you can position your ATM machines. Put it in the wrong place (or a not-as-good-as-can-be place), and your profits suffer. Put the machine in the right place (such as, IDEAL), and your profits soar. Where are little known and good spots?
- Outdoor concerts and venues
- Traveling fairs and carnivals
- Schools (colleges, high schools, universities)
As if location itself weren’t important enough, the visibility of your ATM machine is the second most important consideration for you to look at once you’ve found the ideal spot.
It doesn’t do your machine any good to be in the ideal spot, but no one can see it or doesn’t even know it’s there. Steer clear of placing the machine behind venues where it’s likely the machine won’t be seen. If it’s permissible with the venue’s owners or managers, ask to have signs pointing to where your machines will be located on the property. This is something that is certainly workable with negotiating, especially if there are multiple ATM’s on the site.
Also, when you’re looking for good visibility, also be aware of security and placing the machine where people won’t be worried about using the machine. Place in a well-lit, approachable place where there’s a fair amount of foot traffic, but not too crowded. You also don’t want customers to feel uneasy if there’s TOO much traffic around him while he’s making a transaction.
Now that customers know where the machines are located at the fantastic venue or permanent location, you’ll need to be sure that your machines are operating in good condition and well-stocked. There is nothing as aggravating to an ATM customer as to traipse all over the venue or site to get to your machines….and they don’t work!
Make it a point to perform routine maintenance on the ATM machines to ensure that they’re all working properly. Do this especially, and more importantly, before big events. If there are any problems that arise with the unit, have them serviced as soon as possible. In the case of machines that are inoperable for long periods of time, use an alternative solution. If you own multiple machines in the same venue, direct customers to where they can find your other cash machines on the property.
Also, make sure the cash is in the machines, and in sufficient denominations for the customers. This is a task that you will want to check on more often than a couple of times a week, especially if the machine is in a permanent location.
Where there’s an ATM machine, there will certainly be customers who will use it. With that, there needs to be machines available for them to use. In other words, be creative about where you choose to put your cash machines. If the places are safe enough and have high foot and/or car traffic, then your machine will certainly get some customers and make a profit. But, if there’s not an option for them to use, no one profits on either side.
Just by taking a little time to ramp up your ATM cash machine marketing efforts can make all the difference in your bottom line. Get creative with your placements, and take all of the above steps into consideration with your business. Provide a way for customers to find the cash machines, and you’ll have a way to make your business a successful one.
Network Transaction Fees + Customer Service
With the rising cost of bank fees for various services, bank customers welcome any opportunity they can find to save a few dollars. Whether those savings are with their monthly service fees or through ATM transaction fees, any cost savings they can readily see and reap do add up quickly.
It’s no secret to customers that they think their ATM fees are outrageous, and it seems to them that the fees increase almost every time they make an ATM withdrawal. While that may seem a bit of an exaggeration, what is real is the cost of doing business and how that cost is sometimes passed on to the customer.
Frequent ATM Users
Customers who frequently travel for business or leisure may find that they’re always on the lookout for an ATM machine, especially if they’re not in the habit of carrying large amounts of cash on them at once. These individuals want and need to find ATM machines that they have easy access to, can withdraw the amount of money they need, and those machines that don’t have such exorbitant fees charged to customers. After all, it is their money, and while they don’t mind paying for the ATM convenience, they just want the amount charged to at least be reasonable.
ATM owners also know that these customers need their services from time to time. Some may need it more often than others, but ATM owners also know that there may be another ATM machine further down the road where the customer can take their business if they don’t like the service that’s offered. This can be anything from broken machines, to insufficient cash in the machines or machines that don’t give them their bank balances after the transaction.
The ATM business is a very lucrative and competitive type of business overall. Owners and operators of the lucrative ATM business can often expect almost 100% of their ROI within months or an average annual return of 50% or more when the ATM business is properly Run. The investment far outweighs just keeping your cash in a money market account. To the owners, that’s the best part of being in this type of business. But, to the customers, those fees and surcharges are very much their frustrations.
Flexibility and Convenience
ATM owners provide a convenient and flexible service to users who need to access the money in their bank accounts, but may not be at or near the bank where their accounts are held. So, instead of that customer searching and looking for “their” bank, the ATM machine provides instant service that saves them time and frustration.
Convenience does come with a cost.
Individuals often have to pay usage fees or transaction fees to withdraw money from their accounts, if they’re not making the transaction at their branded ATM machine. So that means if John Doe wants to withdraw $100 from ABC Bank, but he banks with XYZ bank, he may have to pay a surcharge anywhere from ~ $1.00 to $3.00 for the convenient service.
For the ATM owner, it’s a win-win situation, and they can also make it easier for the customer too.
Keep It Profitable
ATM owners determine their own surcharge “convenience” fees when they setup the machines, therefore they can set the limit accordingly, based on their desired profits, cost of doing business, location of the ATM, traffic, visibility, etc. Here are some things to implement with the ATM business that can keep it profitable for the owner and hassle-free for the customers:
- Clearly display on the machine what the withdrawal fees are per transaction (this is a network regulation and all ATM Owners must display this). If your ATM is missing the fee notice contact your ATM provider, if they don’t offer this decal, shop for another ATM provider. Not only does this decal cut down on misunderstandings or disputes and possible charge-backs, it keeps your ATM and your ATM business compliant.
- Maintain the ATM machines in proper working order. If the machines are inoperable, that ATM business traffic will go elsewhere and the place of business will find another ATM Provider.
- Keep the ATM machine visible and in the open. Sometimes, people are leery about transacting with an ATM machine that is “away” from heavy foot traffic or is in a secluded or hidden spot. Think safety. Don’t put the ATM in a dark hallway or other “inconspicuous area”.
- Ensure that the ATM machine is always stocked with cash. Running out of funds is frustrating, both for customers and the owner. Make a habit to check and stock the machines frequently. Your ATM provider should offer online access so you can check your ATM machines in real time for cash balances to ensure they have enough funds.
- While compliance requires the ATM have the processors phone number prominently displayed, be sure to place your contact information in a visible area on the ATM machine, just in case your customers need to contact you with problems. There shouldn’t really be any problems with ATM machines because they require very little support, but customers often feel more secure knowing that there is a way to contact someone in case there is a problem.
Just a few simple things in the beginning of setting up an ATM business can help it run smoothly and efficiently at all times. Customers always have other options, and they will use those options if they don’t have a choice. By setting up the business to be as self-automated as possible and with minimal maintenance, makes both customers and ATM owners satisfied all around.Read More