[for those of you who are impatient, you can jump to the what should I do section]
Last Friday evening, I was visiting the town of Antony, to see an apartment which I will be moving in come September, and M and I were passing close to a branch of my bank, Credit Agricole. So I thought "might as well withdraw some cash". So I went up the ATM attached to the bank wall, and put in my card.
The machine didn't even ask me for my PIN. It just ate my card.
So I pressed "cancel" a couple of times. Still nothing. Then I noticed a small notice with the bank's logo on it saying "sorry, this ATM is broken. The screen also won't show that. If your card is in there, please type your pin and press OK. Then type it twice and press cancel to get your card back. If it still does not work, come back tomorrow morning with your ID and check at the bank."
So I did that, and sadly, no dice. I guessed it was because I had pressed other keys. Ah well.
The next afternoon, I went to the bank, and asked for my ATM card. To my shock, the lady at the bank said that they cannot find my card! They asked me to call the bank's lost ATM line, and get a confirmation number, which I should then give to my _own_ branch (close to work) when it is open.
So (with M's help) I was able to lodge a complaint, and got a confirmation number.
Today afternoon, I finally went to my bank (it is closed on Monday), and while the nice lady there was talking to me about opening an FD/savings account, I noticed that my bank balance had come down by around 1.5K Euros in the past 2 days!!
Turns out there was a contraption attached to the ATM machine that not only stole my card, but also my PIN number. The thieves had pulled out EUR 250 that same evening from the ATM (hitting the daily limit), and bought a bunch of stuff the next day. The total damage: EUR 1,278.
Following this revelation, I went to the police station with a copy of the bank records, gave my statement, came back to the bank and filed a claim for the missing money. I am told that I should get a new card in 10 days, and hopefully my money will be back in 15.
It is worth noting that the bank staff and the police people were very very helpful and comforting, especially given that my French is not that good :).
What YOU should do
Of course, this post will be useless without a set of action-items. So here they are:
- Do NOT use random, unknown ATMs. Prefer to use only the ones that are your bank's, or some other well-known bank's.
- Do NOT use ATMs attached to the wall and open to the road, even if they are outside your own bank (as I did). Always use the ones inside the bank. At least here in France, such ATMs are open 24x7, and since they have a ton of cameras pointing at them, hopefully the scamsters will avoid them.
- If your ATM eats your card, and the screen does not change, DO NOT MOVE. Call the cops, and tell them this happened. If the machine is broken, it will say so. If the monitor is faulty, the bank will NOT put a sticker below the machine, they will block the slot itself. Contrary to what I thought that evening, the banks are NOT that stupid.
- Re-read step 3. If this happens to you, CALL THE COPS.
Ah well, this is it. Feel free to forward this post as email to your friends (there should be an icon below this post). This, for one, is a true story. It happened to me!
1. http://www.snopes.com/fraud/atm/atmcamera.asp [China and USA]
2. http://www.theage.com.au/national/five-charged-over-500000-atm-scam-20090325-9aio.html [Australia]
Update: A sent me a presentation on how the machine could have eaten my card. Still not sure how they got my PIN.