Olongapo police shares false information about preventing ATM fraud

January 7, 2020 - 8:41 AM
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ATM machine
An individual counting cash in front of an ATM. (Unsplash/Nick Pampoukidis)

An advisory from the Olongapo City Police Station gave the public tips on how a certain ATM fraud can be prevented, even though banks already disproved the information.

Police Regional Office 10 shared on its Facebook page that people should “press the ‘cancel’ button twice” before inserting their cards to check if a fake keypad is mounted on the ATM.

Pressing the “cancel” button two times before the transaction will supposedly prevent hackers from skimming the card or getting the individual’s PIN.

“Please make it a habit and part of every transaction that you make,” the Olongapo City Police said.

Olongapo FB post
A Facebook post of the Olongapo City Police Station about ATM withdrawals. (Screenshot by Interaksyon)

It has since gone viral, prompting some discussions on Reddit. User “Smoove-J” revealed an alternative method of wiggling the card slots before inserting anything on the ATM.

“This is the more correct thing to do,” said another user on the thread.

Another one claimed that the advisory “doesn’t make sense” since the “cancel” button supposedly stops any transaction altogether.

“This doesn’t make sense. Why would the hackers put a stop function on their exploit? If this function is from the bank, why not just autorun it every time someone makes a transaction on the ATM?” asked Reddit user “relixus.”

Other Filipinos on the Facebook post’s comment section also shared a link of reports that debunked the claim.

The ‘cancel’ button 

Snopes, a fact-checking website, has rated the claim as “false” and interviewed persons of authority in the American banking industry to verify the matter.

It cited the opinion of the executive director of the ATM Industry Association who said that pressing the “cancel” button twice to prevent supposed ATM fraud is “completely false.”

“A cancel command from the keypad, though, would not have any impact on the transaction, except to cancel it. The mag stripe data (which is what is skimmed, even on a chip card) would either be captured or not captured — all of it,” David Tente said.

“In most cases, the PIN is actually captured by a pinhole video camera focused on the PIN pad, an overlay keyboard that captures the button-push as the customer enters it, or someone shoulder-surfing,” he added.

Agence France-Presse also debunked the claim and interviewed banking experts and a firm who all agreed that pressing the cancel “doesn’t do anything.”

“If I use an ATM, wherever the location, I put my hand on the skimmer and give it a pull or a shove or move it up and down,” Curt Binns, Canada’s executive director of the ATM Industry Association, said.

“If that’s a fake device, it will easily come off and I’ll know the machine was compromised. But pressing cancel two times doesn’t do anything,” he added.

Although the “cancel” method fails to protect people from ATM fraud, the threat of skimming or the act of installing an overlay that looks like an actual keypad but copies PIN and card details is real.

“The best guidance we can provide is to make sure you’ve got fraud alerts set up on your account, look for any type of potential tampering or out of place items on the ATM, and cover your hand when you type in your pin, which stops both pin hole cameras and potential ‘shoulder surfers,'” Snopes said.