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When you want to get cash out you probably don’t think twice about using a cash machine. Of course, you know the basics about being careful who’s around you and covering up the keypad when entering your PIN but it would seem that it’s not just other people that you need to be aware of.

One recent scam has seen fraudsters tamper with a cash machine to enable it to steal the bank details of ATM users as they try to withdraw money. To make sure your Christmas isn’t ruined by a scam like this, we’re going to walk you through how to spot the warning signs.

The details

This scam was spotted in Manchester’s Piccadilly station last month but it pops up from time to time across the UK. A skimming device was recovered from one of the cash machines in the station, with scammers using various techniques to tamper with the machine.

This included installing a camera onto the cash machine to record the keypad and the PIN numbers entered. The camera is often too tiny to spot and can be placed at the level of the keypad or at the top of the ATM. It’s not just cameras that scammers use to steal your details at a card machine – a fake card slot can be fashioned over the real one. This captures your card details from the magnetic strip on the back of your card and holds your card in this slot for fraudsters to collect later on. Equipped with your card and PIN number, the fraudster is able to gain full access to your finances.

It is thought that hidden cameras and devices (like a card skimmer) trick British cardholders out of £27.3 million each year. To make sure you don’t fall victim to a scam like this during the holiday season – when you’re likely to be using the cash machine more than usual – follow our top tips:

Protect yourself

• If your card becomes trapped in a cash machine call your bank immediately on their emergency contact number. Save this number in your phone, just in case you need it in the future. If you’re a thinkmoney customer call: 0161 779 5000 (you can do this 24/7).

• Before you insert your card into a cash machine, look for any signs of tampering. Observe the card slot closely and don’t be afraid to walk away if something doesn’t seem right.

• Always shield the keypad when entering your PIN number. Use your hands to do this or your purse or wallet to get better coverage over the PIN pad.

• Be wary of anyone getting too close to you when using a cash machine. As some fraudsters bypass a camera and simply retrieve your PIN from watching over your shoulder.

In most cases if you are the victim of a fraud like this, your bank will refund you the money. But with Christmas just around the corner you don’t want to have any more stress on your shoulders, so bear our tips in mind whenever you use a cash machine.

Doing a lot of shopping this Christmas – and let’s face it, who isn’t? Read our tips on how to stay safe when shopping online or in-store this Christmas.

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