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Last Updated: Friday, 27 October 2006, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Have Your Say: Cash machine fraud
A machine with a card skimmer fitted, covering the whole right hand side of the cashpoint
Fraudsters often fit "skimming" devices and cameras at cashpoints

Fraudsters are still managing to steal millions of pounds from cash machine scams despite the introduction of chip and pin technology.

On Money Box, Bob Howard reported on how the thieves operate and how additional customer protection measures now being introduced might make a difference.

We asked for your comments and a selection are below.

I had money stolen from my account last year after my card was skimmed. I was already at my overdraft limit, and the bank let the criminals withdraw nearly 300. During the various meetings and telephone calls that followed the event I was given conflicting advice from everybody I talked to. I was told by one person to phone up to report the theft then when I did I was told to go back to the branch. I was told to apply for a further overdraft to enable my bills to be paid while they sorted the query, then told I couldn't have any more money as the account had been compromised. I was refunded the money eventually - after more than a month - with a letter arriving five days later explaining that I'd been refunded but that they weren't able to explain what had happened due to security reasons. So I don't know what steps I need to take in future to prevent the same thing happening to me.
Leonie, Salford

My cashcard was skimmed. They took 20 twice. My bank called me as it thought the debit looked unusual. It was taken from a cashpoint in a busy area. I am pretty cautious and always cover my hand when typing in my PIN number so I am still unsure how they managed to get my details. The bank refunded the money once I had reported it to the police.
Anonymous , London

I recently had to be contacted by my bank as it said my card had become compromised, and needed to be stopped immediately. This seemed rather unusual to me as - having a cautious nature - I have always shielded the PIN pad when using the debit card, even in the banks own premises. It transpired that I was one of many who had used a petrol filling station where security had been breached. I have contacted the company which assures me it is investigating the fraudulent use of my bank details in the far east. I very rarely use the card in shops as the PIN machines have no shields fitted yet. The inconvenience from these lapses seem to be born by the customer only, and the vendor just treats it as a minor hiccup in a day's trading.

Very interested in your item. This happened to us on 16/17 October. I spotted it on the 18 October and informed the bank immediately. I don't know how the bank will treat us but so far have filled in a very standard form (which took six days to reach us!). As a clone was used close (10 miles) to our home I am worried we may not get the 600 back. Both police and the bank told us they "don't know how they can get money from an ATM without you disclosing your PIN". From all you say it is very clear how it is done.
P Colson, Southampton

If it's the continued use of the magnetic strip on the cards that that makes it possible to skim cards, then why isn't it possible (now that we have chip and pin) to ask your bank to you issue you with a card that doesn't contain one?
Graham Bryan, Birmingham

A very simple anti-fraud system which is available in other countries is to have an SMS message sent to your mobile phone every time the credit/cash card is used. I have raised this with my own bank, but it has no interest. I guess the banks are more interested in their profits than providing a service.
John Bradbury, Maidenhead

Twenty pounds was taken from my account and I was lucky it wasn't more. The bank said I must have made the transaction because my PIN number was used. I was very confused as I have never bought anything from the shop in question ever! I phoned the shop's head office. It kindly checked all the transactions for that day and time and found my card had not been used on that day for the said amount. I phoned my bank to inform them. This has made me think it must have been from me using the local cash machine or possibly a bank error. I have since been told that the card used had a different issue number to mine and the case is still being investigated. My old card was very worn - maybe if it was skimmed the criminal made a guess at the issue number. It is three weeks now and I am still waiting to see if they believe me and will return the money to my account. Card protection would have been useless because my PIN number was used and they just assumed I must have given it to someone.
Mandy Race

The bank has refunded my money - but it took nearly six weeks
Elaine Zekavica, Lancashire
I rarely use ATMs. I get my cash back from the supermarket when I shop. In September, I used a local ATM to withdraw cash. Within four days 600 had been withdrawn from my account in two transactions in Singapore. I only noticed because I check my bank account online often. The bank has refunded my money - but it took nearly six weeks. It sent an insulting letter telling me that for security reasons it can't tell me how my account was compromised but that I should be more careful when using ATMs. It gave a list of common sense procedures I always follow. I think it has a duty to tell me how my account was compromised. Its letter only serves to confirm my suspicion that its ATM machine was at fault and it is too embarrassed to admit this.
Elaine Zekavica, Lancashire

It is outrageous that banks, who make a massive profit each year from their customers, are not compelled by the regulating authority to fit all cash machines with anti-skimming devices. American banks inform their customers when a cash machine has been compromised; there is therefore no reason why banks in the UK should not do the same. The regulator needs to ensure without fail that banks are seriously penalised for compromising the security of confidential customer information.
Nigel and Caroline, Edinburgh

If the banks can't write to customers who use ATMs how do they know whose account to debit?
Roger Barton, Sheffield

Banks and other financial institutions are lax in their duty of care to their customers because they do not bear the cost of fraud. The hundreds of millions of pounds taken by fraudsters are entered into the calculation of charges, fees and interest rates. Since banks can rely on consumers to pay the bill the banks have no incentive to deal effectively with fraud. The same applies to any fines regulators lay upon them to punish them. The fines are a business cost which is passed on to their customers. It is the victims that bear the punishment. Nothing came of my raising these matters with the Parliamentary Treasury Select Committee some years back. I suggested that a better way of treating banks' misdemeanours would be to threaten their CEOs and executive officers with prison sentences. HM Revenue & Customs might be empowered to apply swinging marginal rates of tax of the annual bonuses of the erring banks' senior officers.
Peter Curtis, Fareham

The comments we publish are not necessarily the views of the BBC but will reflect the balance of views we have received. It is helpful if contributors state if they work for any organisation relevant to an issue discussed. Readers should form their own views on whether messages published represent undeclared interests, or views prompted by a common source.

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