Hardly a month goes by without there being a story in the news about cash machines. One of the funniest was the one about a German man who was worried about identity fraud - so worried in fact that he wouldn’t use an ATM. However the day he decided to use one he got arrested - on suspicion of identity fraud. It seems he spent so long looking for hidden cameras and other evidence that the machine had been tampered with that his behaviour prompted other would-be users to call the police. That, of course, is an amusing tale but all too often the stories are not funny at all as they catalogue ram raids and other attempts to steal cash.
There’s no doubt that an ATM is good for business - it’s convenient for your customers, it adds to your menu of services offered, and research shows that people who withdraw cash from an ATM in a forecourt or convenience store often use that cash to spend in that store. But as we’ve already mentioned, cash machines are a target for thieves.
Michelle Meyer, spokeswoman for the UK payments association APACS, says that cash machine fraud went down by 44% in 2007 thanks to Chip & PIN but she adds: "Any retailer who offers an ATM facility will want to think about security because unfortunately wherever there is cash you will find fraudsters trying to think of ways to target that cash."
She says these fraudsters tend to target ATMs in one of the following three ways:
? Card-trapping devices - a device, inserted into a cash machine’s card slot, retains the card inside the cash machine. The criminal tricks the victim into re-entering the PIN while the criminal watches. After the cardholder gives up and leaves, the criminal removes the device, with the card, and withdraws cash.
? Skimming from the magnetic stripe at cash machines - a skimming device is attached to the cash machine to record the electronic details from the magnetic stripe of genuine cards as they are inserted. A miniature camera is also hidden overlooking the PIN pad to capture the PIN being entered. Criminals then use the card details to produce a fake magnetic stripe card, which is then used with the genuine PIN to withdraw cash at cash machines overseas that have not yet upgraded to Chip & PIN.
? Shoulder surfing - criminals observe the PIN being entered by the cardholder, then steal the card using distraction techniques or pickpocketing, before using the stolen card and genuine PIN.
"There are clearly a few things that retailers can do to mitigate the fraud risks," says Meyer. "And some of these include performing regular checks to ensure that the cash machine has not been tampered with - that there have been no fake fronts attached, for example. Retailers should always ensure that the cash machine is placed in a sensible location, such as somewhere near to the shop, where the assistant can potentially see the machine. Ideally, if they have CCTV cameras installed, these should be set up to monitor the areas around the machine. "
Steve Bryant, business development manager for NoteMachine, says the benefits of having an ATM on the forecourt far outweigh the risks involved. "There are now over 60,000 ATMs in the UK and the amount of ram raids which occur are minimal. The majority of attacks tend to be on internal free-standing machines, not the traditional through-the-wall cash machines which are prevalent on the forecourt.
"Our security team works closely with the police, local authorities and other ATM deployers to build up a dynamic risk profile of all current and potential ATM locations. Information is collated from various sources, allowing NoteMachine to offer intelligence-led advice on an individual site-by-site basis," he explains.
== something for everyone ==
Bryant reckons NoteMachine has a solution for every forecourt whether that’s an internal self-fill machine or a through-the-wall model. However there are different criteria for each solution.
"For external though-the-wall cash machines we are looking for sites which pump over 3m litres of fuel per annum and have a shop turnover of over £12,000 per week. And we also consider the proximity of the nearest free-to-use ATM."
NoteMachine has over 4,000 internal self-fill ATMs, however Bryant believes that fully-managed external ATMs are the best solution for the forecourt.
Meanwhile The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (which now includes Hanco) has 6,983 free-to-use ATMs across the country, a figure it says makes it the largest provider in the UK.
Danyon Lloyd, general manager, RBS Hanco, says: "There is an obvious need for ATMs in garage forecourts as some consumers prefer to use cash when filling up their vehicle or using the garage’s convenience store. They also provide a safe area on long car journeys where people can take a break, fill up the car, purchase refreshments - all of which require access to cash."
He says that when choosing appropriate locations for ATMs, RBS conducts extensive reviews into the needs of the community in that area, the distance to the nearest free-to-use cash machine and the safety of that location.
"We have installed free-to-use ATMs in very remote areas as well as in deprived areas where residents previously had no means of accessing cash."
Lloyd says the benefits for a forecourt retailer having an ATM include more repeat visits from customers as well as increasing sales at the convenience store.
=== better safe... ===
What a retailer should do to minimise the risks:
* bolt the ATM to the floor;
* do not display it in any of the shop windows;
* out of hours remove all cash and place in the safe;
* leave the ATM door open out of hours;
* display prominent notices around the building saying that there is no cash left in the machine out of hours.
Victims of crime should do the following:
* report incident to the police;
* notify insurance company immediately of any loss, damage or injury;
* within seven days provide written confirmation of loss, damage or injury.
All of the above are conditions of any policy and so are vital for the claim to proceed and be settled. If a claim is reported quickly insurers can help to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.
The first place to look for the best insurance cover is with a broker that can qualify all the measures you have taken to reduce the risk of being a victim of crime, suggest the appropriate types of insurance you should have to protect your staff and business, and then adjust your premium accordingly.
=== Cash is still king ===
* Almost all adults make some of their day-to-day purchases by cash.
* We spend £265bn in cash per annum, which represents 30% of all customer spending.
* Last year, on average, each of us made nine cash payments per week, to a total value of £110.
* £186bn was withdrawn from cash machines last year across 2.8bn transactions.
* £5,903 was withdrawn a second.
* In 2007 there were 34 million people who regularly used an ATM.
* By 2017 75% of adults are expected to be regular users of ATMs.
* In 2007 there were 63,420 cash machines, up 4.9% on 2006 figures. The number is expected to grow further as machines are placed in deprived areas.
* The amount of money paid out at tills as debit card cash back fell for the second successive year in 2007.