Consumer Law > Problems in Consumer Law > 15. Being Robbed at an ATM Machine
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15. Being Robbed at an ATM Machine

More and more people are being cheated and robbed when they draw money from a bank ATM machine using their bank cards. ATM fraud is becoming more and more common.

Your PIN is the code you type in which allows you to use your bank account at an ATM. It is a secret code and no-one can use your bank card without having this PIN number. Criminals trick you to get your card and your PIN number, and then they can use your bank card to draw money from your bank account.

What Can You Do?

If your card has been stolen or lost, take the following steps:

  • Immediately telephone the lost card number of your bank from a call-box or from a friend’s cellphone and ask them to cancel your card
  • If you are at the bank, immediately report this to the person at the enquiry desk and ask them to cancel your card

Don’t write your PIN number on a piece of paper that you keep with your bank card. If you can, just memorise your PIN number and don’t have it on paper anywhere. Otherwise keep the PIN number in a safe place at home separate from your bank card.
Always carry your bank’s ‘lost card’ telephone number with you in a safe place, separate from the place where you keep your bank card.

Here are some of the different ways that you can be tricked when you are drawing money from an ATM machine and what you could do to prevent this happening.


A thief watches you typing in your PIN. The thief distracts you after you have drawn the money, for example, by asking you for help. While you are distracted, another thief takes your card and slips a different card into the machine. You then leave the machine and put the wrong card in your pocket. The thieves have got your card and your secret PIN.

  • Stand close to the ATM when you key in your PIN, and try to use your hand and body to cover what you are typing in so no-one else can see it
  • Don’t let anything distract you when using an ATM
  • Always check your card before you leave the ATM machine. To make this easier, put a spot of nail polish on the corner of the card. If someone has left with your card, report this to the bank immediately and ask the bank to cancel the card.
Vandalising ATM Machines

Criminals put matchsticks or other items into the ATM card slot. You insert your card, and you key in your PIN. A criminal watches to see your PIN. The matches make your card get stuck – so you think your card has been swallowed by the ATM.

The person behind you offers to make a call for you on their cell phone, saying they’ve got the bank’s lost card number. But the call goes through to an accomplice pretending to be a bank employee. This criminal says he needs your PIN number in order to cancel the card. You then leave thinking you have cancelled your card. The thieves then take out your card from the machine with a small tool, and they have got your PIN.

  • Don’t key in your PIN until the ATM machine asks for it
  • Don’t accept help from strangers at an ATM
  • Never tell anyone your PIN. The bank never needs your PIN number for anything, including not for cancelling your card. So be very suspicious of anyone who asks you for your PIN for whatever reason.