Chip and PIN criminals target pubsCrooks use covert tactics to steal bank cards

26 February 2011

Card swipe machine

The UK loses an estimated £1.2m to card fraudsters each day

Chip and PIN fraudsters are targetting pub and club-goers by spying on their codes when they pay for drinks at the bar. The gangs then steal their victim's wallets or purses and withdraw the maximum daily allowance from nearby cash machines.

Which? has learned that many Chip and PIN thefts can be avoided if retailers use hand-held card machines that come with a guard. The guards, which can be obtained from card providers, make it far more difficult for thieves to see the codes when they are entered. According to the Metropolitan Police, incidents of 'shoulder surfing' fell dramatically when bars introduced the guards. In Wandsworth, south London, the crime rate fell from 30 incidents a month to just one. 

Card fraud a 'nationwide problem'

Lavender Hill Safer Neighbourhoods Inspector Peter McGarry told Which?: 'I believe this is a nationwide problem, and would like to see banks and other card machine providers do more to ensure that bar staff are made aware of the problem and are offered machines with PIN guards.'

While victims' debit and credit cards may have a daily withdrawal limit of £200, for example, particularly savvy criminals are stealing cards just before midnight, withdrawing the maximum allowed, then taking a further sum as the new day begins. 

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.