Expats in Thailand should be aware

ATMs can lead to a financial nightmare if they've been tampered with.

All too often expats prove easy targets for financial fraud. They stand out in the crowd and are  often much wealthier than locals. A perfect example is a recent spate of fraud cases in Thailand, where numerous wealthy expats have lost thousands of dollars to financial criminals.

The Phuket Gazette reported the expats were targeted by a mix of con men and hacked ATMs able to steal account information–a worrying trend for any expat paradise.

Patcharee Fongcharoen of Kasikom Bank told the paper:

ATM theft is on the rise, with all banks reporting similar incidents. Our head office in Bangkok is currently working on defensive measures. In the meantime I advise people to use ATMs either inside or at the front of the banks. We recommend that our customers use Kasikom ATMs only as they are all fitted with an anti-tamper system to prevent unauthorized modification.

With this in mind, we offer a few more tips for ATM safety:

  • Don’t use ATMs that look strange or offer unfamiliar options.
  • Never allow anyone to watch over your shoulder as you enter your PIN number. Don’t use your birthday as your pin (if someone steals your wallet it’s the first set of numbers they’ll try).
  • Never write down PIN or account numbers. Don’t save them on your phone, either.
  • Always check your bank statement for signs of unusual activity. Most banks do a good job of monitoring strange transactions. But they can be slower in reacting to suspected fraud if a customer lives overseas.
  • If your wallet is ever lost or stolen, cancel your ATM and credit cards as soon as possible.

To avoid criminals who may be lurking near ATMs:

  • Only use machines in well-lit, public spaces that offer you a good view of your surroundings.
  • Be suspicious of any bystander offering to “help you” with an ATM transaction.
  • Never count cash in public.

Fraudsters and other crooks invariably look for the easiest targets. By following these tips you’ll make yourself a tougher mark, which is the best way of ensuring you (and your money) stay safe abroad.