Bank-scam e-mail spreads urban legend.

October 99 News & Events

Standard Bank and ABSA recently publicly refuted e-mail messages that warn recipients about a number of possible bank scams. The messages include the warning that when a person puts a card in an ATM and enters their pin number, they are asked to choose which language they want the transaction carried out in.

Once they have answered this, their card is swallowed, enabling crooks to access the user's account once they have left the machine, the e-mail message warns.

Standard Bank spokesperson Erik Larsen said in some messages people are advised that the only way to counter this scam is to enter an incorrect personal identification number (PIN) when asked by the ATM to select their language preference.

"Please note that this message does not apply to Standard Bank customers, as a customer's language preference is pre-programmed onto his or her ATM bank card," Larsen said.

"A junior bank employee unfortunately also circulated this message without actually verifying the facts, which only compounded the problem as his and the bank's name appeared on the e-mail address. He sent this message to his sister and this later was further distributed by people believing that it was an official bank statement."

He said that this message has been mutated and international queries have even been received. One variation on the message was that the only safe way of drawing money was by entering the bank and not using the ATMs at all.

ABSA spokesperson Nick Cairns said the language preference question has recently been removed from their program and cards have been pre-programmed. Their equipment has also been fitted with anti-tamper devices. Cairns said that in the past, machines have been tampered with and warned that if the screen turned multi-coloured or a bright orange or red, unlike the normal ABSA screen, people should be wary and preferably use another machine.

Source: Sapa

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