Beware the Helpful Stranger at the ATM

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Written by Bernie Carr

ATM fraud is running rampant these days, and now, there is one more thing to be wary of. And when things don’t go so smoothly while you’re accessing your money, you might feel grateful when someone offers to help. Don’t be so quick to trust-let’s look at why you need to beware the helpful stranger at the ATM.

What’s going on

There have been reports of customers finding the card slot at the ATM being glued shut. These are not just random ATMs, but actual ATMS right outside the bank. When the customer finds out the card slot is shut, they get frustrated because they can’t insert their card. Enter the “helpful stranger.” The helpful stranger then tells the customer they should just use they “tap” function of their card to access their money. This function uses radio waves to get into your account. Sure the card will now work and you can access your money.

But what happens is, even after you’re done with the transaction, your account is not closed out. It is still open for the next user, which happens to be the thief. This has happened to several Chase Bank customers in San Francisco. When the victim reported it, Chase Bank did not believe him and refused to refund his money. He even recorded the same thief repeating the same scam and victimizing other people.

Chase eventually refunded the money after the story came out.

A scammer approached me

Back in Houston, I was in line outside a bank ATM when the machine started malfunctioning. The line inside the bank was very long and so was the ATM line. There were several people in line behind me. A friendly stranger came up to me and introduced himself as a bank manager. He seemed well dressed and had a name tag. He said he was trying to help people to speed up service. If I give him my ATM card and my password, he can quickly run inside and take my cash out for me. I told him I did not feel comfortable doing that and walked away quickly. I know that bank officers would never ask for your password or other personal information. I went inside and stood in line for a teller instead. It took a while to get to the teller but at least I knew I didn’t give a stranger my card and password. I tried to tell the teller about the incident but he was gone by then.

In conclusion

I realize what happened to me is a bit different from what is happening with the glue and tap scam but it’s similar in regards to having a stranger offer to help. When I got approached in line, I had not heard about these latest ATM scams, but I did not feel right about giving someone access to my account no matter how much time I could have saved. I would advise anyone NOT to give your bank card and password even if they seem believable.

Avoid any ATMs that appear to be a bit different or have some kind damage. The tampering may not even be evident. And, beware the helpful stranger, they may be out to scam you.

Have you had any experiences with a helpful stranger? Did it turn out to be legit? Please share in the comments.

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About the author

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Bernie’s latest e-book, FRUGAL DIY has just been released on Amazon. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.






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