I was so excited to reach home to finally take dinner and indulge in my Twilight addiction, amongst others, when I got an auto-generated SMS from my payee-bank. The SMS says,
Banks in UAE have reported incidences of ATM misuse. As a precaution we strongly urge you to immediately change your ATM PIN at the nearest XYZ Bank in UAE.
Imagining the long queue, I wanted to change mine through the net. Incidentally, I’ve done e-banking only once since I got here. I totally forgot my password. I had no choice but to join the sort-of-reunion/ United Nations Day in one of the branches. Expats & locals queued in all the ATMs of different banks. It took me more than an hour to reach the finish line, err, the machine. I felt almost collapsing, since my taking dinner was delayed by more than a couple of hours.
Personal information including passwords of a substantial number of customers spanning across a number of banks operating in the UAE was stolen. The same is being used to create fraudulent cards in the US, predominantly. The fraudsters are using such card and associate information to make online purchases and withdraw cash from ATMs in the US.
The most recent incident is reported by an expat cardholder from Dubai:
“My debit card was copied either at the Marina or at Al Wasl Spinney’s ATM and then used many times in Egypt for a total value of Dh15,000 (US$ 4,084) in various transactions, in shops such as pharmacies and sports stores.”
She can’t recall which bank’s ATM she used since she uses several banks’ machines.
I had my share of conducting ATM fraud audit years back. This happened in the Philippines, too. But not too publicized. No matter how strict the controls are, nothing is impossible with evil minds.
I almost backed out on immediately changing my passkeys when I heard my tummy growling. I may change it early in the morning tomorrow. Thinking that my accounts are not that fat enough to be the targets. But I can’t undermine any risks. I realized, too, that I have exposed myself to concentration risk. ( I’m beginning to talk jargon here.) I just wish to say that I should have strategically maintained my accounts. It’s expectedly bad timing that they also reduced by 50% the withdrawable cash per day. To panic is human, people want to zero out their balances as horribly as possible.
Reminds me of the oldies who don’t want to keep money in the financial institutions. But, to put such in a safety deposit box or wherever at home. Technology has two faces, like the other things in life. While in queue, I did wish that I brought a copy of New Moon. So, that I’ll look like a nerdy fiction gal there. Heehee. In general, banks here are tellerless. You can imagine the crowd at the ATMs today.
Since I didn’t want to make myself feel miserable and get impatient, I had to regale myself. I carefully observed each person. Comparing physicals, voices, smell, whatever. I finally found my worth when a man asked me how to execute the process of changing the PIN. Another inquirers came. Finally, I’m not bored. It’s a general conclusion that majority don’t really change/ don’t know how to change their PINs upon card’s issuance. My irritation didn’t come out when I see those taking ages to change theirs. If I’m in their shoes, I might be lost, too.
I hope this electronic robbery will be stopped soon. I can’t help but think of the bloodiest robbery in the Philippines that happened this year. This sophisticated electronic robbery is lesser evil.