Improved technology is coming to the banking sector in Barbados to tackle the growing problem of skimming, but that could be years away.
In the meantime, president of the Barbados Bankers’ Association Glyne Harrison is warning customers to be proactive in the way they go about using Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the island.
His advice came a day after police reported a recent spate of unauthorized ATM withdrawals, which reportedly affected a number of residents.
Although he could not say how widespread the problem was, Harrison told Barbados TODAY skimming was generally an organized crime that was on the increase worldwide.
And he warned that the issue should be one to watch out more for as the Barbados economy becomes even more open to new markets and the movement of people was made easier.
He gave the assurance, however, that a special committee set up to deal with bank fraud was currently carrying out its own investigations into the recent incidents.
“From our end though we do have a process that has been in place since we had the last incident with the Bulgarians. We do have a bank anti-fraud committee that sits and reviews these types of incidents and that committee is currently working to identify the compromised customers as well as the compromised ATM locations. They are sort of working through that process to make sure that all those persons who have been affected have been identified,” said Harrison.
The senior banker said the industry was moving towards “higher type of security” worldwide, and Barbados was already making headway with some of those technologies when it comes to the credit card market.
“It is relatively new technology so you are not going to see it rolled out in its entirety across the Barbados landscape in the short term, but it is certainly an area where it is moving in Europe and the US and North America it is something that you will start to see down here as well. But that is pretty much in the medium term. You are not going to see that happening right away,” he said.
Harrison said in the meantime, however, there were a number of steps customers should take in order to protect their Personal Identification Number (PIN) and their banking accounts.
Among them, he said, customers should be aware of their surroundings and use an ATM inside a bank, business establishment or a busy location, as these areas were harder to be targeted by skimmers.
“The other thing is making simple checks. So look for things on the ATM. These devices they are meant to be temporary so they are usually put on with things like glue or tape. So you are looking to see if there are any signs of scratching around the ATM card slot [and] if there is any adhesive tape around the slot where you are pushing in your card. You should look if it looks nice and tight and firm or can you shake it and it sort of moves around. Things like that are red flags and you really should contact the bank if you are seeing those types of things and then go to another ATM to be safe,” added Harrison.
Adding that customers should check the keypads before entering their PIN, Harrison advised Barbadians to be very careful about accepting assistance from anyone at an ATM, and to check their balances regularly, as well as use online banking whenever possible.