ATM Crime

Crimes involving cash point machines take three main forms; shoulder surfing, use of a Lebanese Loop in the machine and straightforward snatches. By taking simple precautions when using these machines, you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of crime.

Shoulder Surfing

When using an ATM, ensure that anyone standing close by cannot see you enter your PIN number. Professional criminals will be able to recognise the number from several feet away.

Try not to get distracted once you have inputted the number as this may be a rouse to steal your card.

Consider using ATM's inside shops and banks as these may have improved CCTV coverage and people loitering near machines will be more obvious.

If your card is stolen, report to your bank and the Police as soon as possible. If practical, write down a full description of the suspects and retain it as evidence for the Police

Lebanese Loop

A plastic sheath is sometimes put into the card reader of ATM's, which prevents cards being read. It is often referred to as a Lebanese Loop. They were originally made of videotape but can be made of any thin material. A search on the Internet will show pictures of several different examples. Outwardly the machine will appear no different.
Remember the following advice if you experience problems with cash machines.

  • The cash point machine will prompt you to input your PIN number once it has read the card. Do not input the number until this happens.
  • If the machine retains your card, it will tell you with a short written message on the screen. If there is no such message, closely examine the card reader slot. Is there anything stuck to the front of it?
  • Beware of good Samaritans who advise you to input the number while they are watching.
  • If you believe you are the victim of an attempted scam and have access to a phone, call Police immediately. Give a description of those you feel are involved.
  • Unless you feel it is unsafe to do so, try to wait at the ATM
  • Again if possible, use an ATM inside a bank or shop where the deception will be more obvious
  • Also be aware of anything else hooked up to an ATM, which resembles a palm top computer with a card reader. Do not use such devices

Theft of Cash

Be aware of who is near the ATM when you are withdrawing cash, particularly at night. If you feel uneasy, consider travelling to a different machine. Many machines will now dispense cash to any cardholder although advice regarding charges, if any, should be obtained from your own bank.

  • Try to avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash in one go
  • Be careful not to count the money in plain view
  • Try not to be distracted once you have withdrawn the money
  • You may reduce your risk of having the cash stolen by using an ATM inside a bank or shop

Chiswick resident foils ATM criminals

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