Urgent warning issued by the UK’s biggest banks, and ignoring it could be costly

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Some of the UK’s biggest high street banks have issued an urgent warning to anyone who uses a cash machine to withdraw their money. The scam targets ATMs capable of withdrawing and depositing funds, which are often found outside of high street bank branches.

Scam artists place a printout next to the hole-in-the-wall, warning customers that the deposit feature is out of order. Next up, they fit plastic in front of the drawer used for withdrawals – to block the notes from protruding. When the customer puts their card into the machine, enters their PIN, and then selects the amount of money to withdraw ..they’ll hear the whirring inside the ATM, but nothing will appear.

With the plastic shield blocking the withdrawals, customers will look to the other drawer – the one used for deposits (despite what the homemade sign beside the cash machine claims). With nothing appearing, customers will (wrongly) assume that the cash machine is out of money, out of service, or that something has gone awry with their account.

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Once the customer walks away from the cash machine, the criminal approaches the machine, prises open the plastic cover and scoops the crumpled bank notes hidden behind it. It’s not until the customer checks their statement that they realise the ATM was working as expected – and someone else made off with the money they needed.

The costly scam was highlighted on TikTok, with the video quickly gaining thousands of views.

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While the TikTok clip from Hasan Mahmood found the scam in-use outside a branch of Nationwide Building Society. The bank has urgent customers to be cautious when using ATMs. And a number of other banks have followed with similar warnings. While the TikTok video centred on Nationwide, these scams are possible with almost every major high-street bank.

Speaking to The Mirror in the wake of the viral hit, a spokesperson for Nationwide Building Society said: “The type of incident highlighted in the video, although rare, can happen to ATMs anywhere at any time. Nationwide has a range of measures in place to try and combat these types of scams. However, as the video also demonstrates, it is important that people remain vigilant and check for any suspicious devices when using ATMs, especially those located outside.”

Santander is another lender that urged caution from its customers before entering their debit card or a PIN.

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“Using a cashpoint is easy, convenient and almost always safe. But sometimes criminals tamper with cash machines to steal your card information, PIN, or cash,” a spokesperson for the bank said. “Always be vigilant when using an ATM – look out for any signs it might have been tampered with or damaged but also be aware of covering your PIN and ‘shoulder surfers’ hanging around.”

Barclays followed with a similar warning.

Meanwhile, industry body UK Finance has warned that anyone who uses a cash machine – and finds their money does not come out as planned – needs to immediately contact the ATM provider or lender. Ideally, this should happen while you’re still stood beside the cash point.

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“Cash machines are generally very safe to use, with millions of transactions every day, but it’s still important to take some simple steps when withdrawing money,” a statement said. “If you notice anything suspicious or unusual about an ATM, such as signs of tampering, don’t use it and if possible alert nearby staff or call the police. If no cash comes out or your card is jammed, report it immediately to your bank or building society, ideally by calling them while you are still in front of the machine.”

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