Home / Money / Personal Finance /  Your card transactions might be at risk during the lockdown

Ira Chatterjee has been handing her ATM card over to her building security guard every week or so since the lockdown began in India, and asking him to withdraw cash on her behalf. Chatterjee, 68, who is a retired teacher, is wary of stepping out to withdraw cash herself because of her age and health conditions. But when news broke of the State Bank of India’s (SBI) customers falling victim to card cloning, she was alarmed. “I have been giving my card to the guard, and he knows my PIN. I trust him with it, but I can’t be 100% sure that it won’t be misused. So I have to find another option now." she said.

On Tuesday, SBI in a tweet said that instances of use of cloned ATM cards had been reported in Delhi, and that it might have been because of a compromised ATM of a different bank. The tweet also stated that "Affected SBI customers are being helped and refunds will be processed as per the procedure. All suspicious transactions are to be reported to the home branch." To pre-empt any more such cases, the bank released a set of guidelines, which included changing PIN at regular intervals, covering the keypad while entering PIN, not writing the PIN down anywhere and never sharing your OTP or debit card PIN/details with anyone (read more here:

However, given the extension of the lockdown, many like Chatterjee, who need cash to pay her live-in help and for groceries, have been compelled to find alternatives that flout these guidelines. “Given the demographics of our country, cash will be the primary payment mode for small to medium-sized transactions for household purchases. So, while banks invest in digital payment infrastructure around UPI, IMPS and cards, ATMs will continue to service the demand for cash. It’s important to make customers aware of how to protect their transactions, but banks also need to invest in securing their networks," said Rajesh Mirjankar, MD and CEO, InfrasoftTech, a fintech that provides digital solutions for banking, financial services and insurance sectors.

Card cloning, otherwise known as skimming, is a fraud technique in which someone gets your credit card details, copies them onto a dummy card, and uses it to make transactions from your account. This is usually carried out through rigged ATMs and card swiping machines, which save the information in the magnetic strip of your card to the machine’s memory. “Banks should red-flag the fraud-prone machines and carry out root cause analysis of frauds. Advanced video surveillance and analysis using AI-based systems can potentially also identify suspicious activity at ATMs and suspend cash dispensing. It is also possible to have a convergence of ATM infrastructure and mobile handsets to approve transactions using m-Cards, QR codes and biometric authorization for card-less ATM transactions," said Mirjankar.

While multi-factor authentication for ATM transactions and better fraud prevention measures by banks are still in the works, you need to be especially careful to safeguard your card and transactions. This is true during the lockdown, because it might be a challenge to find a functioning ATM near you. Further, if you think the machine might be rigged or malfunction, avoid using it. If your card does get stuck, depending on the location of the ATM, you might not be able to get hold of ATM security personnel or bank employees to resolve the situation, given the lockdown.

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