Guides

The ATM Scam You’re Probably Falling For

When you’re travelling in a foreign country, you have to accept that there are people out there who’ll try to take advantage of tourists. It’s one thing to look out for scams run by people, but even the most hyper-aware traveller has probably fallen for this ATM scam in Europe.

Travel blog Honest Guide exposed the ATM scam in this video posted to its YouTube channel. The video calls out Euronet-branded ATMs, which are littered throughout Europe in countries like Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the UK. Most of the time, they look and act like a normal ATM — but that changes the second you insert a foreign card.

When you try to take out money using a foreign card, the normal withdrawal amounts skyrocket. According to the video, a Euronet ATM in the Czech Republic lists the lowest withdrawal amount as CZK$10,000 (AUD$635.12), and the numbers climb to CZK$20,000 (AUD$1,270.25).

 

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For comparison, if you’re using a card from a local bank, the withdrawal amount on the same ATM starts at CZK$200 (AUD$12.70).

That’s an insane amount of cash to be carrying around with you, but there’s a second, more sinister step to this scam.

The reason Euronet ATMs try to force you to withdraw such large amounts of money is two-fold: first, because they charge exorbitant transaction fees and, second, they offer a shockingly bad exchange rate for your withdrawal. You end up losing a huge portion of your money to fees and dodgy exchange rates, just by using a foreign card.

But it’s not just Euronet that’s guilty of this ATM scam. Honest Guide reveal that even some ATMs belonging to banks try to trick you into withdrawing excessive amounts of money.

So how can you avoid this ATM scam? Look for Euronet’s yellow and blue branding, and the bold “ATM” sign above the screens. No matter which ATM you’re using, look out for excessive withdrawal amounts, and always check the fees and exchange rates before you complete a transaction. Or skip the ATM altogether and pay using your card.

 

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If, for whatever reason, you have to use a Euronet ATM, make sure you select “Decline Conversion”. This will force the machine to use the official exchange rate on your currency. You’ll still be taking out an absurd amount of cash, but at least you won’t be charged extra fees.

You can read more about the Euronet ATM scam, and how to avoid it, here. Stay safe out there, travellers!

(Lead image: 1000 Words Images / Shutterstock)