Last week, I had an experience where my credit card was cloned. I received a SMS from Garanti Bankasi saying that my debit card is blocked for my safety. It was strange but I wasn’t much surprised because the day before I heard a story about a cashier in a supermarket taking a photo of a credit card’s front and back side under the counter and making online purchases by using that credit card's information. Judicial system works quite slow in Turkey, so it is quite a pain in the neck to get results from a lawsuit. So, I suggest you to take precautions before you use your credit card in Istanbul!
Right after I received the SMS, I called the customer service and asked them what exactly happened. First, I was suspicious about my online purchases, but I always use virtual cards instead of my actual credit card's information. It seemed almost impossible. Customer service didn’t want to give detailed information about their security defects at first, however, I insisted. Finally, they informed me that my card was copied at ATM. I blocked all my cards and checked my account, if there is any suspicious transactions. Luckily, there was nothing that looked like a fraud transaction.
So here is what happened and how to stay safe :
The ATM I used was around the Bogazici University where ATM is mostly used by students. When I inserted my card into the ATM I didn’t notice anything suspicious. Apparently, there was a gadget set for copying the credit card’s magnetic band on the card slot of the ATM. You can see the picture below :
This simple device looks identical to the original ATM's card slot and the only way to spot is to hold the green part and pull it to see, if it detaches. If you spot a copying device you should call the police or just walk away or find another safe ATM. Do not use this ATM after you take the device off because there may be another fraud device placed on this ATM since it is already captured by a frauder.
This kind of ATM frauds are mostly done in the crowded squares and streets of Istanbul where circulation is high and everyone is in rush.
Simple steps for protecting your account :
- Check if the ATM has a security camera. Frauders avoid setting up these ATMs.
- Check if the card opening is not replaced with a fake one.
- Look around if anyone looking over your shoulder to steal your pin.
- Check for hidden cameras placed around the keypad.
- Do not accept any help from strangers including the security guards.
- Also, do not let a waiter go away with your credit card to use the POS machine in restaurants. Ask them for a mobile POS machine. If they don't have a mobile POS Machine, then walk with them to the cashier.