Crime unit clashes with First Direct over ATM warning

Crime unit clashes with First Direct over ATM warning

UK online bank First Direct has clashed with the UK's Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) - which was set up by Apacs and the Home Office - for advising some of its customers to limit their use of cash machines.

The bank has written to 10% of its customers who use cash machines most regularly, warning of the growing risk of fraud, and advising them to use an ATM just once a week and to withdraw enough money to last.

The letter states: "Making very frequent cash withdrawals from ATMs increases your exposure to fraud...You may find it more convenient to make a single withdrawal to cover your cash requirements for the day or even for the week ahead."

But Detective Inspector Tony Thomas from DCPCU told BBC Radio 5 Live he disagreed with First Direct's advice: "I don't support it. We should not be giving in to these criminals. Yes, we need to be careful but we need to keep it in perspective."

"To carry large amounts of cash around with us is creating new risks," says Thomas.

First Direct also advised customers to use debit cards and get cashback from retailers as an alternative to using ATMs.

Annette Spencer, First Direct spokeswoman told BBC News Online that the letter was advisory only and not prescriptive and that the bank recognised the risks associated with taking cash out once a week.

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