How do thieves get money with a stolen ATM card?

I have **difficulty **getting my own money because I forget my password and cannot remember where I scribbled it down.

Latest story, these appear regularly, is about some dude is stealing cards from purses in theaters and harvesting money before the owner knows the card is missing. News reports he got significant amounts quickly. I don’t know how this is done.

You should not be able to get money without knowing the PIN. They tend to use fake card readers for this (that attach to the real card readers on ATMs - with fake keypad - to record actual PINs).

Is it possible these were ATM/Debit Cards? A thief could steal those - and buy stuff - like iPads from stores - and the net effect would be the same - money siphoned from their account. If it has a VISA logo - the transaction can be processed like any other credit card - no PIN used at all.

We had a debit card stolen and the guy racked up a ton of charged just in taxi cabs and bar tabs in one night. There are a lot of ways to steal money without actually taking cash.

There are many ways to pilfer or learn a PIN. Simplest is for them to watch you make a purchase, then pick-pocket, purse-snatch or scam you out of your card. Three minutes later the cash has been extracted and they will keep trying until the card goes bad.

It’s amazing how often I use my own card without ever putting in my PIN or showing ID. Cabs and restaurants top the list. But I don’t think that I ever get cash.

Here is the second hand story, with a reference link. I remember the original as being about the same story.

NEWS of the WEIRD - Current News

I think the key here is the term “cash-advance”. He wasn’t using them as a debit cards to withdraw money from a bank account. He was using them as credit cards to get cash advances on credit.

I don’t know for certain if a PIN is required for a cash advance but if the thief was able to do this then I assume not.

As others have noted, you can make a crapload of purchases without entering a PIN or signing a receipt (e.g., online purchases if it’s a debit card), so that’s the easiest way to get money from a stolen card.

Another way is to just guess the PIN. A lot of people pick crappy PINs (cite, cite). If you steal a bunch of cards, you’re not trying to guess any one person’s PIN - you’re trying to find the knuckleheads in the bunch who have picked 1234 as their PIN.

This. A lot of people are dipshits when it comes to picking PINs. A person has many familiar four-digit sequences in their life that they can choose as a PIN - the last four of their brother’s ZIP code, the last four of their sister’s work phone number, their parents’ street address, etc. Any one of those are unlikely to be guesses chosen by a stranger who steals your card, or even (someone you formerly thought of as) a friend. But if you choose 0000 or 1111, well, that’s almost as dumb as writing your PIN right on the back of the card (which some really dumb people probably do).

That’s why my PINs are “SDMB”, “BBQPIT” and “TROLLU”.

My PIN is “gullible” - shhhh.

Absolutely a PIN is required to get a cash advance from an ATM. You can also get cash advances without a PIN by going to a bank or Western Union and doing it at the counter, but you’re supposed to have photo ID that matches the card.

At least it’s not something in the dictionary.

Most, if not all, POS terminals in retail stores allow you to use a debit card as a credit card. You sign the slip instead of entering a PIN. Unfortunately very few cashiers will ask to see your ID. When I worked a register back in the day and asked to see a customers identification, rather than being upset, most customers thanked me saying they’d rather have the security and put up with the minor inconvenience of digging their id out.

These terminals require you to sign on the pad if you are using the card as a credit card, or enter a PIN if using it as a debit card. Both work equally well. If you sign there is a pause while it says it is verifying the signature.

But the machine is not really verifying anything apparently. You can sign Mickey Mouse, you can make a few XXXs, or you can do what I do and just scribble a wavy line. Every time the signature is verified and the purchase allowed.

And since you are doing all these things by yourself on the POS card reader no one ever looks at your card or ID.

I cannot remember the last time a retail clerk actually handled my card, it is all done by me at the card reader/PIN pad, and is always accepted once the clerk gets the OK.

Does anyone else read this as “Piece Of Shit” every time they see it?

[sub]Yes, I know it stands for Point Of Sale…[/sub]

I’d have thought that the ATM would still require a PIN (and I’m not 100% sure you can get a “cash advance” on a debit card).

You could certainly use it as a credit card for purchases (assuming it’s branded as such vs. a plain debit card).

Heh - was looking for something else, found this thread, and thought I’d pop in to mention that the information might have been useful a week or so ago :p.

I went to get money at an ATM, walked up to the machine, and saw the screen displaying something to the effect of “take your G****** CARD YOU FOOL”.

And someone’s ATM card, sticking forlornly halfway out of the slot.

Being an honest sort (well, and of course not knowing his PIN), I took it indoors (the place was open) and handed it over to an employee. Then got on my phone, looked up the guy’s name, found him quickly, and phoned him at home to let him know where his card was. Poor guy sounded surprised, I don’t think he’d even realized it was missing.

They wanted it to be 1-2-3-4-5 to match their luggage, but the ATM only takes four digits.

This thread made me think of something. Why are four digit PIN numbers still being used? Debit/credit cards would be more secure if they used 7 or 10 digit PIN numbers. Most people have no problem remembering phone numbers so this shouldn’t be a problem for the average person.