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Fraudsters can work out your PIN by the heat traces your fingers leave on a cash machine, researchers have found. Some 80 per cent of the time scientists were able to correctly identify the four-digit code using an infrared scanner on the ATM. Even a full minute later the camera was able to show clearly which numbers had been pressed, giving a fraudster ample time to get what they needed.
All they would then need to do would be steal the person’s wallet and they could help themselves to their money. The researchers said that using an infra red camera only told you the order 20 per cent of the time but that even then it was massively easier to work out because you knew the numbers. The team from the University of California at San Diego built on previous research which used infrared cameras to work out safe combinations after workers had pressed the keys.
Fraudsters have over the years used a string of techniques to get the pin numbers of people using cash machines. Among the most elaborate took place in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in which criminals put a fake ATM outside the front of a Tesco supermarket. It included a ‘skimming’ device which allowed them to copy and read bank details and PINs while the machine paid out cash. Other criminals have used tiny cameras in the ceiling to record people entering their pin numbers as they enter them in at the till.