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BNZ advises of new ATM security risk in NZ

29 March 2006
Media release – for immediate release

Bank of New Zealand advises of new ATM security risk in New Zealand

Bank of New Zealand has temporarily suspended the ATM cards of approximately 1,300 cardholders to proactively protect customer accounts after a skimming device was reported to have been affixed to its New Lynn ATM machine.

While ATM fraud involving skimming devices has been prevalent overseas this is the first known incident to have impacted New Zealand’s 2,300 ATM machines.

Skimming devices are used by sophisticated criminals to harvest the PIN number and magnetic strip details from credit and ATM cards. This information is used to produce a fake card, providing access to customer accounts.

“The Bank is very concerned about this incident and is working actively with Police investigating the matter, and other banks,” says Shona Bishop, General Manager Marketing and Business Development.

“With 210 million ATM transactions in New Zealand annually, the banking industry is treating ATM fraud extremely seriously. The Bank has been working with the New Zealand Banking Industry Association in addressing security risks of this kind,” Ms Bishop says.

“The Bank is very concerned about any security risk and inconvenience to affected customers. While only a small number of fraudulent transactions have been identified, we have taken the precaution of suspending all ATM cards of Bank of New Zealand customers who used the New Lynn ATM from 7 March to 28 March,” Ms Bishop says.

“We are contacting relevant Bank of New Zealand cardholders to let them know what has happened and why we have suspended their ATM card. We have also asked those customers to review their recent transactions to ensure their accounts have not been compromised. No Bank of New Zealand customer will suffer any loss as a result of this incident,” says Ms Bishop.

Bank of New Zealand customers who believe their accounts may have been compromised are invited to contact the Bank on 0800 275 269.

The affected cards will remain suspended until a new PIN number has been assigned. This can be done at any Bank of New Zealand branch. If preferred, customers can request a new ATM card which will be provided free-of-charge.

Cardholders from other banks who used the Bank of New Zealand ATM during this time may also need to contact their bank, says Ms Bishop, and Bank of New Zealand was working closely with the other banks to keep them informed and abreast of the situation.

“ATM fraud is an industry-wide issue, globally. No banking institution can consider itself unaffected due to the sophistication and determination of the criminals involved. This incident is a reminder that New Zealand is not immune to the actions of highly organised fraudsters,” Ms Bishop says.

To avoid ATM fraud cardholders should take the following precautions at all times:

- Keep PIN numbers safe and don't reveal a PIN to anyone.
- Be wary of people trying to offer "help" at an ATM.
- Look at the ATM before using it. If it doesn't look right, for instance don't use it, report it.
- If an ATM has any unusual signage, don't use it. No bank would hang a sign that says, "Swipe your ATM here before inserting it in the card reader" or something to that effect.
- If a card is not returned after the transaction or after pressing cancel, immediately contact the institution that issued it.
- Check bank statements to be sure there are no unusual transactions.


ENDS

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