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Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the thickest of them all? EXCLUSIVE BUNGLING BANK PUTS THIS ABOVE A CASHPOINT.

Byline: BY ANUJI VARMA

A CASHPOINT machine has become the perfect target for card thieves - because a "security" mirror shows Midland customers typing in their pin numbers.

Unsuspecting people using the ATM at HSBC in Bearwood Road, Smethwick, are being exposed to prying eyes by a fish-eye mirror above them.

Incredibly, it was actually installed as a security measure so customers could spot suspicious characters lurking behind them as they withdrew money. But the idea has spectacularly backfired because the mirror reflection clearly shows pin numbers being keyed in to those waiting in the queue - and even passers-by.

Last night, a HSBC spokeswoman said the bank was looking into the security breach. But customers using the cashpoint were horrified when they were told passers-by could see their pin numbers.

Student Fazar Sabir, 20, of Birmingham, said: "I didn't even notice there was a mirror above me. I can't understand why they would put it there in the first place.

"It's an invitation to card thieves everywhere. All they have to do is watch you type in your pin and then snatch your card.

"It's extremely worrying."

And rival bank manager Kam Kanth, 32, was equally incredulous. He said: "I'm shocked that the mirror has been placed there.

"They are certainly not used by other banks in this way."

Pete Evans, 28, of Bearwood, regularly used the ATM until he noticed the mirror. He said: "I first realised that I could see other people typing in their pin number while waiting in the queue.

"I now try and avoid that particular ATM because you never know who is watching. It's a ridiculous place to put a mirror."

The mirror was erected by police and HSBC as part of a local safety scheme. Barclays, also on Bearwood Road, has installed one but its keypad cannot be seen in the reflection.

Last night, a HSBC spokeswoman said: "The mirrors were installed to prevent people from being attacked. Customers can look behind them through the mirror if they feel threatened and then just move away if there is anyone suspicious hanging around.

"It was installed by the police quite a while ago as they felt it was necessary. However, we are looking into removing it and are working with the police."

She added: "People should be aware that when using ATMs, they should cover their hand so that no-one can see them putting in their pin number."

Fraud at cash machines across the country has rocketed in recent years.

Criminals use various techniques including 'card-trapping' or 'skimming' where a device is inserted over an ATM slot.

It retains cards for crooks who use a pin-hole camera in the device to record pin numbers.

The customer simply thinks the machine is out of order - but their account can be cleared of cash within minutes.

anujivarma@mrn.co.uk

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IT'S BEHIND YOU: a bank customer withdraws cash with the mirror above her
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2007
Words:488
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