Officers from the Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) are today, Tuesday 1 March, alerting commuters and other train users to be vigilant when buying train tickets at unmanned ticket machines on the rail and tube network.
The specialist joint police unit - which consists of Metropolitan police officers, City of London police officers and card payment industry investigators - has noticed a rise in the number of card skimming devices being placed on payment keypads at ticket machines in London train stations. These devices capture the credit and debit card details from unsuspecting members of the public.
The DCPCU who has been working with the British Transport Police (BTP) and Transport for London (TFL), is today reminding the public of the best ways to protect themselves when buying their tickets.
To minimise the chances of falling victim to this type of fraud, cardholders should follow common sense advice:
o If someone close to the ticket machine is behaving suspiciously, use a different one.
o If there is something unusual about the machine and you suspect that a skimming device has been attached to it, do not use it and alert a member of staff at the train station or the police.
o Use your free hand to shield the keypad when you enter your PIN.
o If someone starts crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction immediately and use another machine.
In addition to this, cardholders should always check their bank statements regularly and thoroughly for any unfamiliar transactions, and contact their bank or card company if they spot any.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, who heads the DCPCU, said:
"We urge tube users to stay on their guard to help prevent themselves from being scammed. Officers from our specialist unit, which has a national remit, are working very closely with TFL and the BTP to ensure that these fraudsters do not benefit from their criminal activity. We also want to reassure people that any innocent victim of this scam will get their money back from their bank or card company."
Howard Collins, TFL's Chief Operating Officer at London Underground, said:
"Although crime on the tube network is very low, with an average of only 13 crimes per million passengers, we want to make sure that our passengers take a couple of steps to minimise the risk of becoming a victim of bank card fraud.
"We will continue to work closely with the Metropolitan Police and BTP to ensure that the tube network remains a low crime environment."
Detective Sergeant Dean Lardner, of BTP's Major Investigation Unit, said:
"Members of the public should be aware of these scams and take care when using ticket machines. By checking ticket machines for anything unusual, people can better protect themselves from becoming a victim of theft."