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Police warn of bank card thefts


Police warn of bank card thefts

East Hamilton police are warning home-owners to beware of thieves stealing bank cards and then ringing owners to find out PIN numbers.

Police have dealt with several incidents in Hamilton East recently where eftpos and credit cards have been stolen from a house, usually while the homeowner has been outside. The owners then get phone calls from offenders who say they are bank staff and that the victims’ cards have been found stuffed into an ATM machine. The caller asks for the PIN numbers so the cards can be retrieved.

Sergeant Nick Young says some people have given the callers their PIN numbers over the phone. Their bank accounts are consequently drained.

Mr Young said thieves have been targetting homes where the occupiers have been outside doing gardening or other outdoor work. The thieves slip into the house through open doors and steal handbags and wallets.

It was possible that a group of people were operating in the area and Mr Young said it was essential that police were kept informed of any type of suspicious behaviour.

"The best advice we can give to home-owners is that if they are working outside, they should make sure the house is secure. Thieves also know that people keep their handbags and wallets in common places like on the bench or on the table. It would be a good idea to put those things in places that aren’t obvious and that would make it difficult for a thief to access quickly."

Mr Young said in no circumstances should PIN numbers be given out over the phone. If people receive calls from the bank asking for PIN numbers, the bank should be rung immediately to check the call is bona fide.

"It is extremely unlikely that a bank would ask for a PIN number over the phone. It is also unlikely that a PIN number would be needed to retrieve a card from a machine."

Mr Young said people should be vigilant and keep an eye out for suspicious activity in their area. There were also similar problems with thefts from office buildings where "stair dancers" often stole purses and wallets from staff handbags.

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