Preventing ATM Fraud

Posted by on October 8, 2007 in Misc.

My friends think I am obsessed with cash flow. I have all my accounts set up with on-line banking and check them every day. I believe part of this “obsession” is due to the experiences I wrote about last week- when you work on irregular income, you tend to check your cash flow a little more carefully. Last Thursday, I checked my bank account on-line at noon and noticed something funny had showed up “PLUS ATM WITHDRAWAL” for $361.29. Two things came to mind: (a) how do you do an ATM withdrawal for $361.29? and (b) even if I could, it wasn’t me!

I immediately called my bank and asked whether it was a posting error- perhaps it was a pre-authorized withdrawal that I had forgotten about?  No- it was definitely an ATM withdrawal. Perhaps you made a withdrawal at 1 in the morning, asked the customer service rep? No- I was sound asleep at 1 in the morning. Perhaps you want to cancel the card and report a claim in branch? That would be a yes!

I went into my branch the next day and got a new bank card. They also told me that a “PLUS ATM WITHDRAWAL” is a withdrawal made outside North America and the odd withdrawal amount is due to the currency conversion. The teller, who I know quite well, suspects that my card number was stolen from a reader. When you swipe your card, the machine has two feeds- a legitimate one that goes to the bank and an illegitimate one (the reader) that collects bank card numbers and pins. Scary eh?

I put in a claim and it will take 5-10 days to settle the claim (they either give me back the money or not).

I have two observations to make from this experience:

  1. If someone wants to commit fraud they will. Just try to catch it as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. I caught the withdrawal by pure dumb luck- it appears I found it within 6 hours of it happening.  The morale of the story is don’t wait until you get a bank statement to check your balance. Check it often for cash flow and fraud prevention purposes and report anything out of the ordinary immediately.
  2. Again- this was dumb luck on my part and not part of any design- I have never raised the withdrawal limit on my bank card since I have had this account 15 some odd years ago. Thus, they hit the ATM withdrawal limit quickly. If you don’t need large amounts of cash at one time, limit your ATM withdrawal maximum for both budgeting and fraud prevention purposes.

Based on this little adventure, I have decided to blog more on fraud prevention as a personal finance topic. If anyone has any tips or suggested topics, please comment. Thanks.

11 Comments on Preventing ATM Fraud

By FourPillars on October 8, 2007 at 11:51 pm

I set my card limit at $300/day. If I need to make a larger purchase then I just call and get it raised. After I make the purchase then I call again to get it lowered back to $300.


By TKO on October 9, 2007 at 4:17 pm

Greeting from London, On

Just a word of caution on the latest scam.
Those guys work really hard to work you over.

There’s a new form of credit card fraud going around. Someone calls, gives his name and badge number and says he’s with the security and fraud department at Visa or M/C.

‘Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern and I’m calling to verify’ he says. The caller then asks you to look for seven numbers on the back of your card. He reads you the first four, which are part of your card number, and asks for the last three ?? the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card.

Never give out the last 3 numbers on your credit card to people who call you!

Cheers to your financial health.

Ps. I forwarded this message to my grandma, then I called here pretending I was from her CC company security department. Great April Fools joke, but I don’t suggest doing that to your loved ones if they’re got a hart condition.

By Riscario Insider on October 10, 2007 at 2:04 am

You’d think that a withdrawal outside North America would trigger an automatic ‘suspicious behaviour alert’, unless you routinely travel internationally. Come to think of it, why wouldn’t international withdrawals be turned off by default and activated only upon request?

My bank no longer mails statements, which makes checking them less convenient. Less paper would reduce mail fraud, though. My daily withdrawal limit was reduced to $500 (see post). I didn’t realize that the limit could be temporarily increased. Thanks for the tip, FourPillars. And TKO, it’s a bit late/early for April Fools jokes :)

By This and That on October 11, 2007 at 9:08 pm

[...] Thicken My Wallet recently posted about his experience with debit card fraud. [...]

By Keeping your credit and debit cards safe from harm | Ellen Roseman on October 14, 2007 at 11:55 pm

[...] Thicken My Wallet, a personal finance blog, found a rather large ATM withdrawal ($361.29) on his bank statement. He discovered that his card had been skimmed and withdrawals made from outside the country. The odd amount was because of currency conversion. [...]

By Thicken My Wallet » Blog Archive » Preventing Fraud on October 15, 2007 at 7:05 am

[...] Preventing ATM Fraud [...]

By John Smith on November 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

Good comment. It is a pitty that many people doen’d think like trat. Thanks.

By Thicken My Wallet » Blog Archive » Protecting yourself in an unsecure world on July 24, 2008 at 5:00 am

[...] see something unusual, report it quickly. It limits your damage (see my previous experience with ATM fraud). Order your credit score yearly not only to see your credit worthiness but to spot any identity [...]

By Thicken My Wallet » Blog Archive » Does the bank have to reimburse if I am a victim of fraud? on March 9, 2009 at 5:01 am

[...] need to check your accounts constantly. Beside checking for obvious fraud (having been a victim of ATM fraud before), in an era of outsourced service provisions, simple clerical errors by financial [...]

By ATM on August 14, 2009 at 6:15 am

The list of credit card and debit card fraud is endless. If you want to know teh latest on frauds look at less developed countries, the fraud usually starts there and then migrates to 1st world countries

By Thicken My Wallet » Blog Archive » 5 easy tips to prevent against fraud on March 17, 2010 at 5:03 am

[...] a victim of debit card fraud. His story sounds a lot like mine several years ago when there was an unauthorized withdrawal from an ATM in the middle of the night. Since the reports of fraud are on the rise, whether it be [...]

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