BCEL Customers Raise Alarm After Losing Money Due to ATM Skimming

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BCEL Bank has issued a statement warning customers of ATM skimming operations that have occurred at some of its machines around Laos.

Skimming occurs when devices installed illegally on ATMs or POS terminals capture data or record cardholder PINs. Criminals use the data to generate fake debit or credit cards, which they then use to steal from victims’ accounts.

Several posts on social media from BCEL customers have revealed the withdrawal of cash from their bank accounts through ATMs without their knowledge.

Following this, BCEL has issued a warning notice asking customers to be cautious with their passwords and change them often if they withdraw cash from ATMs frequently. The notice also pointed out that some fraudulent individuals often tamper with ATMs to install a miniature camera near the keypad to capture passwords.

The stolen information is often used to make fake credit cards mirroring the original for illegal purposes.

Mr. Viyalak Vongprachanh, a police officer from Sekong Province, recently reported that he lost around USD 3,000 due to ATM skimming and requested relevant authorities investigate the matter.

He said that the withdrawals were made in some locations in Vientiane Capital without his knowledge, but his card was still with him when they occurred.

According to BCEL, customers must check that the ATM displays a flashing light before inserting the card in, and avoid putting in their pin without guarding the keypad.

Residents could also increase the security of their bank account by switching from an ATM Unionpay or magstripe card to an ATM Unionpay Chip card.

Alternatively, customers can select to withdraw cash via BCEL One Application and contact the number 1555 if they suspect any foul play.