The number of cash cards stolen at ATMs has tripled over the past year, according to statistics published by Financial Fraud Action UK.
The group said that in the first four months of the year there had been 7,525 incidents in which cards were stolen after their owners used an ATM, compared with 2,553 in the similar period in 2012, the BBC reported.
Often, thieves hover behind the user at the cash point – a technique police have labelled "shoulder surfing" - to see the PIN, and then pounce afterwards to steal the card, often by distracting the user.
One 80-year-old woman told the BBC two people had watched her withdraw cash from an ATM. She had then gone into her local supermarket and when she came out, they asked her for change and then pretended to help her with her purse before stealing her card. "It's obvious that they'd seen me as an easy mark," she said.
The increase in thefts of this kind could in part be put down to the introduction of chip and PIN technology, which make it harder for criminals to use technology to copy card details, the police said.
The video below from LINK highlights bad and good ATM etiquette:
Financial Fraud Action UK said it was important that people take precautions when using cash machines to ensure they do not unwittingly give their PIN away to "shoulder surfers." It offered this common sense advice:
• Stand close to the machine and shield the keypad from anyone who could be looking, or any cameras that might have been set up to film the keypad.
• Don't be afraid to cancel a transaction if you feel uncomfortable or think someone could be watching you. Do not accept help from strangers or allow yourself to be distracted.
• Fraudsters have been known to fit devices to cash machines that trap cards, which they then retrieve as soon as you have left the area. If your card is held by the machine for any reason, report it to your card company immediately, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine.
• Store your card company's 24 hour contact number in your mobile phone just in case.
• If you a cash machine looks like it has been damaged or tampered with, do not use it and report it to the bank concerned immediately.
• Once you have completed an ATM transaction, put your money and card away before leaving the cash machine. Destroy cash machine receipts, mini-statements or balance enquiries before you dispose of them.