Public wants Banks to enhance security at ATMs

From The Hindu

Chennai: Following the arrest of a Romanian in the city on charges of fixing a skimmer at an ATM, the police are planning to communicate to banks the necessity of improving security at ATMs, especially when it comes to refilling cash in these machines.

On Monday, the staff of Canara Bank, who went to refill cash at an ATM located inside a petrol bunk in Guindy, found a skimmer and a pinhole camera on the machine, which led to the arrest.

Besides co-ordinating with the banks to prevent such crimes, police are also checking whether the gang from Romania had fixed skimmers in any other ATM in the city.

According to police sources, bank staff will be instructed to look for skimmers and keyhole cameras fixed in the ATMs while refilling cash. Security guards must be directed to park themselves inside the ATM.

Security loopholes

Despite various measures by banks, several ATMs in and around the city continue to be low on security. Some have security guards. However, many of these guards are advanced in years are often not equal to the task of guarding ATMs.

Shibu Isaac, managing director of Force 1 Guarding Services, said banks opted for tendering process and recruited security guards based on the lowest bidder.

“But, we ensure more youngsters are trained to handle attacks,” he said.

In some places that did not have security guards, residents faced difficulties in contacting the bank branch concerned about problems at ATMs.

M. Paul, a resident of Kolathur, recalled an incident in which customers experienced a mild electric shock during monsoon.

“We couldn’t contact the bank and had to inform TANGEDCO and barricade the ATM to prevent any accidents.”

Well-illuminated locations

Residents also demand that ATMs be located in a well-illuminated location and police patrolling must be intensified in such sites.

R. Suresh of Irumbuliyur recalled that an unidentified person made an unsuccessful attempt to break open an ATM of a private bank on Old GST Road, Perungalathur, on November 1 last year.

Despite such incidents, security at many ATMs is poor. Many facilities have only a security device that blocks the card for repeated attempts, and low-resolution cameras.

Bank authorities however say they don’t have much choice other than employing aged people as not many youngsters are willing to take up the job of guarding ATMs.

Sources in the Indian Bank said such skimming could happen only in machines with a swallow device where a debit card cannot be removed till the transaction is complete. Most of the latest machines have a dip card reader, which allows customers to withdraw card and would reveal any skimmer or keyhole camera clamped into it.

A senior police officer from southern suburbs said ATMs in every area had been enumerated and patrolling teams had been advised to keep a vigil on ATMs in secluded areas.

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