When will ATM fraud end?
BIZLINK - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - October 1, 2013 - 12:00am

ATM fraud is still prevalent, yet ATM users are in for a double-whammy.

First, automated teller machine (ATM) users will just have to be keener about where their mother bank’s cash dispensers are if they want to avoid the higher charges to be imposed for using other banks’ ATMs.

The country’s major banks made this announcement last month citing higher ATM costs. They also said that the last increase in ATM fees for internetwork withdrawals had been in 2005, and were no longer enough to maintain security and service levels.

The above fees will be effected October unless Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) stops it thru a memorandum reportedly to be issued within the week by BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.

Card upgrade

The second additional cost that ATM users are facing will apply to a plan to upgrade all existing ATM cards with one that will have the new security feature known as Europay MasterCard Visa (EMV) electronic chips. This move is apparently intended to improve the security features of ATM cards.

The new chips will also upgrade Philippine ATM cards to international standards. This means that these will become compatible with dispensing machines in other parts of the world.

The rise in fees and planned shift to chips from the current electronic magnetic stripe will affect an estimated 25 to 30 million active ATM card users in the Philippines, while the move to upgrade to a chip card will need the retooling of more than 12,000 ATMs found all over the country.

How much this will cost ATM card holders is still unclear.

Scam problem escalates

The Philippines has its share of scam problems involving ATM use. The industry had of late adopted measures to protect itself and its customers, first by installing hand shields or similar initiatives to block illegal surveillance cameras installed by criminals to view card users’ security access numbers or personal identification number (PIN) when making a withdrawal.

Another measure adopted was the installation of a detecting device in the machine itself where the ATM card is inserted. This is to foil the illegal card readers installed by scammers to detect card data, thereby allowing them to inquire about balances and withdraw funds later on.

The problems seem to have continued and even escalated since 2011 despite the tighter measures adopted. The latest case reportedly involves an international skimming syndicate working in cahoots with local thugs that has scammed local banks and ATM card holders of millions of pesos.

Even BancNet, MegaLink and ExpressNet, the country’s three biggest ATM network operators, had been alarmed by the extent of scamming, prompting the service companies to recommend the radical shift to the EMV chips.

The operational details that will start this change are still being hammered out, but card users are assured that this shift will make ATM transactions more secure.

Precautionary measures

In the meantime, while the ATM scam operations remain undeterred, it would be best to double, even triple, precautions when using banks’ cash dispensing machines.

The most important advice I always give is to refrain from securing an ATM card for your main savings account. In other words, have a separate account and keep a small amount only for ATM use. This way, if your account gets hacked, there would be minimal losses on your side.

We all know scam victims who run after the bank are rarely successful in recovering their lost money. Or if ever the skimmed money is returned, it will take years.

The second measure is for the banks to adopt. In this day and age, installing a CCTV or video recording camera is one of the easiest things to do. And with the latest technology improvements, it isn’t as expensive as it used to be. At least the video recording will help in providing clues as to the people behind the crime operations.

Other safety steps

Other tips to avoid being a victim include using ATMs found inside the bank premises; these are less prone to be hacked by skimmers. Try to use just one or two “suki” ATMs. Familiarize yourself with the features so that you are able to immediately recognize if there is any tampering and change in the machine.

If you have to use a machine that’s not inside a bank, carefully examine the card slot for suspicious devices that could copy your card details. Look for small hidden cameras also intended to spy on your PIN input.

Don’t talk to strangers to try to retrieve a confiscated card. Most ATMs now have procedures that give advice on what to do when your card is swallowed by the machine.

Refrain from transacting from an ATM machine where there are other people who are suspiciously just around. Move to a safer machine, even if this means travelling a few more kilometers.

Beware of email advice

Lastly, if you receive an email supposedly from your bank, don’t click on the link. In all probability, the email is part of a phishing scam that will threaten the security of your bank account and even your credit card.

Well, if you’ve become really paranoid about ATMs, avoid it. You’d be surprised that if you plan well your cash needs, you can really do away with these quick cash machines.

Collegiate basketball ongoings

Congratulations to UST Growling Tigers for achieving a historic win to enter the UAAP finals for the second straight year. The Growling Tigers will meet DLSU Green Archers for the UAAP title in a best of three series starting Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013.

Additionally, the UAAP champion will be seeded in the final four of the Champions League (PCCL) the 2013 National Collegiate Championship. The UST Growlng Tigers of coach Pido Jarencio are the 2012 National Collegiate Champion and by reaching the UAAP finals, the Tigers will have the opportunity to defend their national title. 

At CESAFI-Cebu, Southwestern University Cobras and University of Visayas Green Lancers are locked in a tight battle for the CESAFI title while University of San Carlos Warriors bagged third place. SWU, UV and USC, top three CESAFI teams, are automatically in the Sweet 16 round of the National Collegiate Championship.

Visit www.CollegiateChampionsLeague.net for more news about collegiate basketball competitions around the country leading to the national championship and join for free ongoing contests and survey.

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us at www.facebook.com and follow us at www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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