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Police warn of skimmers in action in Austria

Austrian police are urging bank customers to be especially alert after recording 86 cases of skimming at automatic teller machines with the latest in the Hietzing district of the capital.

As part of the scam the machines are manipulated so that when they are used cardholders find their card data is copied and their PIN codes are stolen allowing the crooks to clean out their accounts a short while later.

For the average user it is almost impossible to identify if a machine has been modified by crooks however – and mostly it is only noticeable when the machine is being reloaded with cash or when the crooks are spotted in the act.

Police spokesman Mario Hejl said: "Customers need to look carefully at the opening where the card needs to be inserted and generally it is here that an extra attachment is fixed to read the code . It's also a good idea to see if any foil has been put over the keypad or the exit for the cash."

He said should anybody notice anything suspicious they should raise the alarm with police.

But at the same time police said the classic old-fashioned method was also something to watch out for. A crook stands near the user of an ATM and observes them type in the code – then uses pickpocketing to get the card a short while later.

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