Bank balances hit by skimming device on Mid Ulster cash machine

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Police are appealing for people to report suspicious activity at cash machines after reports that a cash machine in Mid Ulster had been fitted with a skimming device.

It is understood that a number of people lost money because of the device, but only realised they had been victims of theft after being contacted by their bank.

A statement from the PSNI said: “Skimming involves a device being attached to a cash dispenser to record the electronic details from the magnetic strips of genuine cards as they are inserted. A miniature camera is often hidden, overlooking the PIN pad to capture the PIN being entered. A fake magnetic stripe card is then produced and used with the genuine PIN to withdraw cash at cash machines overseas, where they have yet to upgrade to chip and PIN. In this instance the hidden camera hole was in a false side panel.”

Police would advise people to follow some simple steps to keep themselves and their cash safe.

• Put your personal safety first. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, cancel the transaction and use a different machine.

• If you spot anything unusual about the cash machine, or there are signs of tampering, do not use it. Report it to police and the bank concerned immediately.

• Be alert. If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine. Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.

• Stand close to the cash machine. Always shield the keypad with your free hand and your body to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN.

• Once you have completed a transaction, put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine. If the cash machine does not return your card, report its loss immediately to your card company. Destroy or preferably shred your cash machine receipt, mini-statement or balance enquiry when you dispose of them.