Figures from the banking industry show that fraud involving cash machines rose by 85% in 2003.
The total amounted to £61m and is now the fastest growing form of card fraud.
Much of the crime is carried out by organised gangs who fit special devices to the machines to copy card details.
The Association of Payment Clearing Services however insists the majority of cash machine withdrawals are safe.
Have you been a victim of cash machine fraud? How much faith do you have in the security of cash machines?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
I work in a supermarket and deal with chip and pin all the time, and it is so much more secure than signing: many people seem incapable of replicating their own signature, but if someone enters a correct PIN then the potential for fraud is greatly reduced. As far as entering it in front of a line of people goes, I personally would halt a transaction if I thought a customer was being shoulder-surfed, and I would hope others would do the same. What really annoys me is people who refuse to learn their PINs, even though they have one: it is far more secure and you only look foolish, not to mention potentially suspect, if you refuse to use it.
Matt, Loughborough, UK
Don't use the ATM's if you can help it. I use the cash back facility in many shops, garages and post offices, it's much safer
Elaine, Letchworth UK
The problem is surely not helped by the different designs of cash machine all the banks now seem to use (even different designs at the same branch of the same bank). If you're not sure what the machine is meant to look like, it's difficult to spot if it's been tampered with.
Jon Combe, Woking, UK
This is another smokescreen by the financial services industry to deflect attention away from their exorbidant charges. The banks are the real criminals.
Dave Mailer, Bristol, UK
I, like many people have been a victim of card theft while using a cash point machine. My account had £450 taken out within minutes, but by 10:30 the next morning the bank (Abbey National) had refunded it. I would commend the bank for their swift action, but I don't use cash point machines if I can now help it.
Unfortunately I have been a victim of cash machine fraud by the criminals using the "band" method, whereby my card got stuck in the machine after I had input my pin number. Obviously, they saw the number I put in and got my card after I had left and £300. However, I immediately put a stop on the card and after 3 weeks got a full refund from the bank. Oh, and they were caught...using my card at a bank with a CCTV outside!
I'm still surprised at the amount of people who waltz up to cash machines, put their card in full view, practically invite you to watch them enter their pin and then happily check their balance without making any attempt to cover the screen from prying eyes.
Mark, Wigan, UK
If people are stupid enough to be ripped off like this, they shouldn't have bank cards. All this means is the already outrageous bank charges will be increased to cover this 'loss'. Why should I have to pay for other peoples' inadequacies??
Mark Blackman, London
Can someone give me a reason why our bank pin numbers are only four digits, whereas you would never ever be allowed to have a four character password?? If people can routinely remember phone numbers of over 10 digits why can't pin numbers be increased from four numbers to say six or eight?? It might not stop the more technically minded fraudsters with cameras and the like, but it would stop anyone trying to spot your pin number over your shoulder at the supermarket or ATM.
It's always somebody else's fault! If you just had a 3 second look around the area of the machine itself then you would know straight away if it was safe or not. Stop trying to blame banks for your forgetfulness or ignorance!
Chris R, Croydon, UK
The closest I came to cash machine fraud was when a withdrawal I made (for the whopping sum of £10) was never deducted from my account. I'm not convinced chip-and-pin will help anything - it merely passes the buck for checking things are in order. At present if a man is using a stolen card belonging to a woman he can hope the assistant is particularly dull (how can a bearded person sign as Mary Poppins?) but with a PIN code the assistant probably won't even notice the discrepancy.
Of course it will be so much easier for the thieves when they introduce their own substitute chip and pin machines. They can then download the chip contents and obtain the pin number all in one go. Thank you banks.
Steve, Cramlington Northumberland
I moved here three years ago. There is very little card fraud here. It is very noticeable that when you use an ATM, the next customer stands at least two metres away until you leave.
Chris O'Hanlon, Hausjärvi, Finland
Of course Apacs and the banks claim that machines are safe - the more they have, the less staff they need and more profit they make - but don't be fooled that they will pass the benefit of the profits to the punters.
John, Watford, UK
I rarely use a cash machine - instead I get cash back when I am at a supermarket. Judging by the queues at supermarkets in the days before they shut for bank holidays most people go there several times a week!
I think that if the fraudsters cannot be beaten we can at least frustrate them. If you use a dark cloth over your hand while typing in your pin then I don't think the camera will see it. Perhaps banks could issue these with cards?
Simon, Harlow Essex
I had my card skimmed a Barclays cash machine in Virginia Water. It took me over 3 months and 4 replacement cards for me to be up and running again. However more worrying was when I tried to report the crime to the police whom where less than interested. The criminal took my money from a cash machine at a petrol station and amazingly the bank where unable to tell me exactly where and when. This lack of clarity meant the police would not log the crime.
Am I right in thinking that £61m of fraudulent transactions out of a total of £144bn is only 0.04%? That strikes me as being quite a secure system.
Paul J, Daventry, UK
Two of my friends have been subject to this kind of fraud. One was "Skimmed" via an ATM while his bank was being renovated. The other at a major High Street Store when the Checkout Assistants where writing down card numbers! How are we meant to know what one of these "Skimming" devices look like, when the Banks have not communicated this to us. Putting a warning on the ATM is usually far too late.
Alan Bradley, Coventry
My mother was recently a victim of cash machine fraud where someone stole her card and pin number and used it to withdraw £1000 which took her over her overdraft limit. The bank looked into the problem and agreed it was fraud, and refunded the £1000 but not the charges for going over the limit. The real criminal here - the bank.
Alison, Leeds, UK
It's happened to me and they made off with £160, which was all they could get out of my account. I found the police and my bank to be very helpful and got the money back within 4 weeks. I now never use external ATMs and if I really need money I will go into a shop and get cash back. TIP - regularly check you account.
I work for a multi-national UK bank. Banks do care about this because reduced usage of their ATM's (if they are being targeted) means their customers must use competitors' ATMs - for which they get charged by the other bank.
Roy, Melchester, UK
I drew £100 out of the cash machine last Friday and on Saturday I woke up and my head was really hurting and I had no money left.
Steve Whelan, Liverpool, England
I am not a victim of cash machine fraud but my cash/debit card number has been used fraudulently to set up a monthly 'subscription payment'. I reported this to the bank immediately I noticed the first deduction from my account. The bank did refund the money each time the payment was made but was powerless to cancel the 'subscription', once set up it can only be cancelled by the recipient of the payment. How secure is this - less than chip & pin - no proof of identity required.
Richard, Aylesbury, Bucks
Yes. More than £3 million was removed from my Bradford and Bingley bank account last week. If anyone from the bank is reading this can they get in touch with me to apologise and replace the money tout suite. Thanks.
Derek S, UK
At least Chip & Pin will mean that some checks are made because currently most shops barely check the signature. An American friend was in the UK recently and she has 'Please ask for photo id' written on all her credit cards. Not a single shop in the UK requested it or commented on the lack of signature on the card.
David Priddy, Slough, UK
A lot of ATM sites are very gloomy. Better lighting would help users to see anything unusual. Also, it must be possible for the designers of the machines to develop a sensor that can distinguish between a skimmer and a card and send an alarm to the bank and the police - or how about a text message to our new mobile phone-equipped community policeman?
Fraser Ashman, Lymm, UK
So Apacs want us to check our accounts on regular basis. For most of us that will mean using these cash machines more often, thus increasing the chance of us falling victim to this awful crime. How is Chip and Pin supposed to be more secure, when someone can stand behind you in a retail store and watch the number that you key in.
Nigel Walker, Stoke on Trent
Recently I have noticed an increase in self-service machines, e.g. petrol pumps and self-service checkouts in the new supermarket where I live. These machines only require you to swipe your card, despite the fact that the staffed checkouts use chip-and-pin. Isn't this a backwards step in security?
I wonder about the use of the chip and pin to fight this type of fraud. All pin entry keyboards I have used so far have been extremely exposed. I always try to cover my pin, but it's very difficult when the person behind you in the queue is so close. Shouldn't we be trying to remove this ability to look over another's shoulder?
I have found chip and pin machines very helpful in that I use them so often I have no problem remembering my pin and no longer need to write it down and risk it falling into the 'wrong' hands. As for skimming machines etc. I understood there to be surveillance cameras attached to most ATMs, or is that just here in the States? This films everyone who uses the machine and so catching anyone interfering with it would be simple. At 80% increase, the banks need to do something...and quickly to restore public confidence.
For each £100 cash withdrawal I made on a recent holiday in South Africa from my British credit card, I was charged £10 transaction fee. I closed my account immediately! Every time I have been ripped off it has been by a bank not by a criminal.
Sean, Brussels, Belgium
Yes, but the Visa Company was so good with me refunding all lost revenue immediately that I'm not worried. They also spotted within 24 hours and 3 unusual transactions that it wasn't similar with my patterns and from then on asked for passwords etc.
Interesting that all comments posted so far have been about London - another reason not to visit!
Lee, Hebburn, England
I have not been a victim but to cut my risk I have started going into my local Post Office and getting my cash out there, as I can see my card at all times and it is quick and easy. Just wish they would have a separate counter for cash withdrawals only though. At the end of the day I would rather queue than have my card cloned.
I used to work in a very busy fraud department for a major card issuer. Losses through fraud make only a small dent in overall profits so it's not an area which is given much attention. To such companies, losses are purely monetary and take no account of the heartache, misery, inconvenience or time expended by the consumer. There are inexpensive schemes available which, in the event of loss or theft, the card-holder need only make one call and all cards are stopped, losses reimbursed etc. Most banks and card-issuers can advise further.
Trevor, Leeds, UK
We have just recently discovered that we were victims of a bank fraud. The fraudster used my husband's card details on our joint account and made off with nearly £500 in two transactions. We were lucky in so far as we do keep an eye on our itemised billing but found it frustrating that the crime could not be properly reported until normal UK business hours as our bank's customer support is based outside the UK after hours. Thankfully the bank has told us that after investigation they will refund us for the amount stolen and any charges that may have been made against our account due to the withdrawal of these funds.
E. Hales, Horley, UK
Being already aware of this scam I always check ATMS in areas like out of town supermarkets. This proved a good check one day as I found a loose fitting on a card slot at a supermarket ATM and the person before me in the queue told me that he thought the card was being "jammed" as it left the machine. I reported it to the customer services desk and asked them as a precaution to close the machine down. Frustratingly, they said it wasn't their problem and I left the store to find a queue of people still using the ATM. I told them all to beware as I thought the slot was skimmed and they looked at me like I was mad and continued to use it anyway. Hopefully today's announcement will make people and businesses realise that this theft is now, unfortunately, real and apparent.
Danny, Bristol, UK
My card was copied in South Wales and used to pay for things in London. It took ages to get the money back as I couldn't be given a crime number. As there was no evidence the card had been copied in Wales, South Wales Police wouldn't acknowledge it as their crime, and as far as the Met were concerned no crime had been committed in London. The bank refused to change my account number, saying the hassle wasn't worth it. I was concerned that my new card had the same details as the one that had been copied - just with an issue number that was one digit higher. It would have been easy to use the details for further transactions. In the end I changed banks, with very little hassle at all.
Ros, Cardiff, UK
I'm only a 16 year old student, but reading this story has shocked me, the whole 'skimming' method is unbelievable! What is going to be done to stop this? When you're standing at the check out using your chip and pin card, and people are stood by watching you enter your number, they could easily see it, and mug you when you left the shop. I've never had anything stolen from my bank, but I certainly don't want any chances of it happening either!
Sara Williams, Darlington, England
Surely the use of chip and pin will increase cash machine fraud? It can't be a good idea to type your pin number in a shop in front of a queue of people. I'll be using cheques in future.
I've been living in the UK for the past 3 years and found it strange seeing how negligent people are when they are using cash machines. I don't think it is a negative criticism, merely that people have probably not adapted to the increased crime regarding cash machines. A handy tip I always use is placing my one hand (holding the purse) over the other to obstruct the view of what the pin number is that I'm typing in. It might not be ideal for everybody, but it works for me!
Mel, Winchester, UK
My chip and pin card has been cloned twice in the last 3 months. It's all very well refunding the money and regarding the matter as closed, but I have had no advice from the bank as to how it has happened to me twice or where the card was cloned. I don't think the banks are doing enough to alert their customers as to how and where this is happening.
Paul Healey, Brighton, England
It is not only ATMs where problems happen. I used my debit card at a local garage; a few days later I noticed over £600 had been taken from my account. The card had been cloned when I paid for my fuel.
John, Lincoln, UK
We have the same problem in Germany. Unfortunately in Germany the banks won a court case which basically means that the customer has no right to any repayment from the bank when money is stolen from an account. Banks basically have the attitude that it's the customer's fault not the banks. The normal reaction is "the customer must have had the pin number with the card". This has backfired a few times when customers proved the sealed envelope with the pin number was still with the bank. Basically the banks here in Germany believe they have the safest system and it's always the fault of the customer. We also have a lot on online banking problems and again, it's always the customers fault!
David Miller, Frankfurt, Germany
My husband was a victim of cash point fraud 2 weeks ago. Both his bank and the police have been very unhelpful, and have suggested that until he proves it was not him withdrawing the money they will not give him the money back. Both the bank and the police seemed unaware of the problems with people copying cash cards and pin numbers and couldn't understand how a crime could have taken place as he still had his card. Meanwhile, we are £810 out of pocket with no idea when the money will be reimbursed. I have been disgusted with the lack of help from both parties on this subject!!
Jo Kehoe, Leicester
Since coming to the Netherlands and using C&P on a daily basis, I've certainly found it to be a fantastic thing. Everything from buying a stamp to topping up parking is done with it. Few supermarkets take credit cards, but all take C&P. Come on UK, get rid of loose change and catch up!
Karl, Haarlem, Netherlands
My replacement debit card was intercepted in the post, stolen and used on a shopping spree around London. First I knew was a phone call from the bank's fraud department asking questions on various transactions. I got my money back about 1 month later. However why the bank insisted on sending me a card that didn't require a phone call to activate I will never know. My credit cards required a phone call, but not my debit card!
My wife and I have just discovered our bank account has been totally emptied over a period of one week, we discovered this fraud after receiving a letter from our bank saying we had gone into the red. I quickly went online to access a statement, and to my horror found no funds at all. I have lost £3000. I use exterior ATM's very rarely, but recently needed to use one in the West End. My guess is that is where my card has been "Skimmed" Not only has this caused us terrible stress, but also I have had to close the account and sort out direct debits etc, which has now taken three days to sort. I will not use exterior ATMs again.
Paul O'Pray, London
A skimming device has been used a couple of times on a cash point near my office. One of my colleagues saw it and tried to remove it but the equipment was taken from him by the fraudsters involved. He reported it to the bank. They said that they could contact all the users of the cash point and advise them to check their accounts but instead they would leave it to the customers to deal with if and when they discovered the fraud. I am surprised that the banks are not more keen to crack down on this given that they end up bearing the losses.
Julie, London, UK
When doing my weekly shopping at my local branch of a big national supermarket chain the week before last, I was astonished to witness the following: When paying his bill, the man in front of me entered his pin number incorrectly three times on the chip and pin machine. "Don't worry" said the assistant, "You can sign for it instead". My amazement at this was compounded when after he signed the receipt, the assistant then noticed that the card he was using was not signed. Instead of calling the supervisor, or voiding the transaction, he gave the man his card back to sign, and allowed the transaction to go through! What chance do we have to stop credit and debit card fraud in the face of such stupidity?
Shaun H, Essex
Five of my friends were affected by this a couple of weekends ago. While out on a night in London, all five of them went to the cash point to get some money.... one after the other. They all had money withdrawn from their accounts over the next few days totalling thousands. How does it work that this 'skimming' device can copy cards one after the other? Is there any sign that the cash point has got one of these devices attached?
Michael Glyn-Jones, St.Albans, Herts
I was a victim of fraud, I went to a Halifax cash machine in Chingford early one Friday morning and withdrew some cash, the cash machine looked slightly different but I didn't think anything of it as I had heard that card fraud was rife in my borough, Waltham Forest. The following morning I went into the same branch to get a statement and was horrified to see that almost six hundred pounds had been withdrawn! It was a very upsetting experience, I had to go to the police station to report the fraud and get a crime number. I have to say I was very disappointed that it took four weeks and threats of moving my account and mortgage before the Halifax reimbursed my account, even though I pointed out that it wasn't my fault that the fraud had happened and that I was a single parent. As a result of this fraud, I am VERY careful and will only use an ATM inside a branch. For the first time in my life, I feel safer withdrawing a large amount and keeping it at home.
Joy Ewer, London, England
I have just had £2,200 taken from my account. I realised when I found out that my card had been 'skimmed' at an ATM in a very busy London tube station. I knew about the attachments to machines and never thought it would happen to me, but it was done so well that I never noticed.
Mike, Twickenham, Middlesex
I visited London a while back and used my bank card to withdraw some cash from an ATM (cash machine). A week after I got back home, I too received a phone call from the bank advising me that they were sending me a new bank card after mine had been swiped and copied to withdraw a large amount of cash from my account by these thieves. The bank thankfully credited me with the money they had stolen. Always be wary if there is anything attached to the cash machine and call the bank asap if you do spot it.