A gang of fraudsters were caught prying on unwary cardholders at ATM centres, noting down card details and using it to make purchases online. Look around before you key in your PIN the next time, warns MARRI RAMU

The idea behind allowing only one person at a time inside an ATM centre with a single currency dispensing machine is not only to ensure the customer’s privacy but also his card’s security.

A cautionary notice to this effect is also displayed at a few ATM centres, perhaps not too prominently. Security guards also prevent a second person from stepping inside if another is using the machine.

Still, it is common to see people standing behind customers withdrawing cash from the machine at many centres.

While for some, this may not look like a security breach, but some fraudsters are taking advantage of the unwary and taking the cardholders for a ride.

A gang of four, accused in an online debit card racket busted by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) two days ago, reportedly adopted a new modus operandi of stealing card details of customers by standing behind them. They would then use these details to purchase costly articles online.

‘Shoulder browsing’

Known as ‘shoulder browsing’, the offenders go to ATM centre posing as customers. They step inside when another person is withdrawing cash and stand closely behind.

“As the customer keys in his card number and the personal identity number (PIN), the offender would save the details on his mobile phone,” the investigators explained.

Once the card details are available, members of the gang go to an internet café and order costly articles like gold jewellery, high-end mobile phones or laptops. Later, they would resell the articles and make money.

State Bank users beware

In most cases, State Bank cardholders have been found to be the victims. CID officials say cards of these banks are more vulnerable to frauds as they lack adequate security features.

Members of the gang cleverly chose ATM centres in rural or semi-urban areas where awareness about bank card frauds is low.

“Unaware of the possibility of others noting down their card details, customers don’t object to others standing behind them,” police say.

A gang misusing bank card information, stolen in the same manner, was earlier arrested by the Secunderabad railway police.

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