'Shoulder surfing' at ATMs triples in the past year

reg varney cash machine
Some shoulder-surfing, yesterday

If you go down to the cash machine today, be sure to watch your back for heavy breathing PIN number grabbers. According to Financial Fraud Action UK, 'shoulder surfing' (the act of sneaking a look at your pin and then grabbing your card) has almost tripled, with 7525 incidents in 2013 compared to 2533 in a similar period in 2012.

It's apparently because chip and pin cards are making fraud a tricky business these days. So criminals, unable to take the hi-tech route, are going back to the old traditional ways of just robbing people blind in the street.

Still, it's all very well telling people to watch their backs and shield their pins, but how can we really protect ourselves against this? Surely banks can employ an eye-scanning technological solution that can better protect old ladies from being attacked by marauding pin stealers?

Or are we all going to have to wear shoulder spikes and Ming the Merciless collars every time we want to take out a tenner?


  • Butthole S.
    Love a bit of surfing
  • Russ
    Good quality CCTV should be cheap to install at every cashpoint, that should help the problem
  • Clunge
    It's not the ATMs that are the problem, it's the chip & PIN terminals in shops, restaurants etc. They're far more exposed, and far more difficult to shield what you're typing in.
  • Ben T.
    It also doesn't help with the ridiculously loud "BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP" when putting in your pin number. They might as well just announce via a loudspeaker that someone is going to soon have a wallet full of cash.

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