30 December 2012

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam Banks Fix Security Devices to Cut ATM Theft

SEVERAL banks in the country have placed additional security measures in their Automated Teller Machines in order to protect their customers from ATM theft.

A random survey by the 'Sunday News' on several banks in the city, established that the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) has installed new security features, including a shield that protects the keypad on the ATM. ATM keypad shields are designed to help conceal the user's hand from the angle of the camera positioned in ATM cubicles and from other customers.

ATM is a computerized device that enables clients to make transactions without the need for a bank teller. Bankers believe that during PIN entry (secret code) at the time the customer wants to draw money, it is important to shield the keypad of the ATM as a security measure.

The security software's main characteristics can be noticed immediately the customer inserts ATM card through the speed at which cards enter and exit the machine. "It is taking too long for ATM card to be ejected from the machine," said a customer who was impatient at NBC branch along Sokoine Drive.

Stanbic Bank has also installed the new features. However, during the survey this reporter noticed that several banks were also in the process of changing the security features of their ATMs. An NBC branch security guard in the city who was seeing helping customers with the new device told this reporter that people were impatient over the slow process found in the new ATM software.

"The card will enter and exit a bit slower than usual and all clients are requested not to remove the card from the ATM before it has fully ejected from the card reader," he said. The Banks also issued instructions recently that clients should not pull the card out of the ATM before it comes to a complete stop.

Recently the 'Sunday News' reported that ATM thefts in the country, though on increase, is a new experience and authorities have advised financial institutions to consider immediate measures to prevent it. Several banks have big amounts of money as compensation to clients who have had their money stolen by ATM thieves.

Unconfirmed reports from financial experts indicate that the banks have lost about 800m/- in compensation to affected customers. Some sources confirmed that ATM theft has hit several banks both in Dar es Salaam and other big cities, including Mwanza and Arusha.

A banker who preferred anonymity said that ATM thefts have mainly been done by fraudsters from Eastern Europe. Recently, an Eastern European couple was caught in attempt to steal from ATM in Dar es Salaam bank. Sources said the police said they have arrested two people in Mwanza recently in connection with ATM theft.

The case is still under investigation. The Head of Marketing, Communications and Corporate Affairs at the NBC, Ms Mwinda Kiula-Mfugale, said ATM theft was robbing its customers their savings. She, however, could not give any figure of the loss the bank incurred.

She added, "The crime is affecting the banking industry. The matter is yet to be discussed by the Tanzania Bankers' Association (TBA)." Ms Kiunda-Mfugale observed that it was appropriate to view the matter in the context of the entire Tanzanian banking Industry.

In another development, STANBIC Bank is in the process of installing additional security controls at its ATMs countrywide to check hacking and client card information compromise. A statement issued by the bank says the security mechanism's main features will be the speed at which cards enter and exit the ATMs. Last week, a man was arrested at Tabata in the city after being found tampering with ATM. Bank customers around the area arrested him after a security guard raised alarm.

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