Any time money for lifters

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Technology has opened up new vistas in convenient banking for genuine customers although ingenious fraudsters often work their way round tough tamper-proof devices.

This has been the case with Automated Teller Machines, which are operated with plastic cards.
Technology wizard Donald C. Wetzel, who developed the ATM for Docutel in 1969, may not have fully grasped how it would revolutionize services.

India had to wait for almost two more decades to get an ATM when Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) introduced the ATM in 1987 in Mumbai.

According to State Level Banker’s Committee, there are 4,382 ATMs in Kerala and 5,788 bank branches, including district cooperative banks.

India’s banking behemoth – State Bank of India- has 521 ATMs in Kerala with more than 27,000 countrywide. SBT has around 900 ATMs in the State.

SBT’s chief manager, Mr. C. Raj Kumar, says each ATM in Kerala records 300 – 400 hits on average daily, indicating the spurt in the volume of transactions.

“Apart from Government office salary accounts, even beneficiaries under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act have ATM cards”, he said.

SBT has issued 49.53 lakh ATM cards in Kerala and chances of fraudsters/ pranksters stealing your accounts are high.

But, SBT and SBI do not have manned ATMs; instead customers swipe their ATM cards to operate the teller, which ensures the least tampering.

“This gives additional security and restricts strangers from accessing ATMs”, said Mr. V. Kannan Kutty, general manager of IT Systems, SBT.

In early 2004, when SBI launched a floating ATM in Alappuzha, it made international waves. But it had to be shut down after two years owing to local misuse.

The SBI assistant general manager, Ms. K. P. Seethalakshmi, Kerala Circle, says most frequent complaints are about accounts getting debited without cash disbursal owing to lack of funds or satellite signal failure. Cards getting stuck are another complaint banks hear every day.

“It is best to give your mobile number to the bank so that it sends an SMS alert when money is withdrawn from your account. When you credit money, you don’t get an SMS alert as others can also deposit money in your account”, said Ms. Seethalakshmi. But this is restricted to SBI and its affiliates unike new generation banks.

Customers also complain they have to wait outside ATMs while agencies refill machines. Cash is transferred from one business to another or between same business establishments in bullet-proof vans, such as those belonging to Brinks Arya or CMS.

“Money has to be dispensed 24 X 7 all thru the year. Reserve Bank of India has allowed filling ATMs day/night to ensure customers get money anytime”, added Seethalakshmi.

SBT does not outsource ATM cash replenishment. It is done by joint custodians (accounts officer and head cashier) during business hours.

Cards issued by banks in India can be used at any ATM within the country. Savings bank account-holders can transact a maximum five transactions free at any ATM a month, which includes all types of transactions, financial and non-financial.

Customers will be charged Rs20 for each cash transaction and Rs8 for non cash transaction beyond this limit.

Some hi-tech ATM tricks
Card skimmer
Skimmer devices are attached to the card slot in ATM machines.
Once a card is inserted, the skimmer captures details of the card. Looters would use such information to make duplicate cards and access the account.

Lebanese loop
Another notorious ATM-looting trick is the Lebanese loop in which a filmstrip or any similar item is inserted in the card slot to block the card. As the customer leaves the counter to complain to the bank, the robber will enter the counter and take the card, which could be used for making online purchases for which PIN is not required.

Cash trap
A thin strap, usually a film, is inserted into the cash slot of the ATM machine so that once the cash is dispensed it gets trapped and the user will not be able to take it. Once the customer leaves the counter, the looter will enter the ATM counter and take the cash.

Do's and Don'ts while accessing ATM accounts
* If you forget PIN or if card is sucked in by ATM, you should contact respective bank and apply for a new PIN or retrieval/issuance of a new card.
* PIN should not be written on ATM card and prevent sharing it with strangers.
* Never give your card to strangers.
* Ensure strangers do not watch while you count money.
* Avoid ATM transactions at night.
* Never take strangers’ help in case of difficulty in accessing ATM account.
* Never reply to e-mails that ask your PIN number; banks never send them.
* Leave ATM counter only after ensuring your transaction is complete. Press Cancel key to ensure your transaction has ended.
* After transaction if money has not been dispensed, immediately inform bank.
* Always take the receipt.
* Give your mobile number to bank to ensure SMS alert on your account.

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