Shoulder surfing

What is shoulder surfing?

Shoulder surfing happens when a crook is looking over your shoulder while you are carrying out a transaction at a cash dispenser. By doing this, he hopes to get to know your secret code. Once he has seen it, he will try to divert your attention in order to get hold of your bank card.

How does a criminal work?

You are busy withdrawing money from a cash dispenser. All of a sudden, the person who is standing right behind you, will be so kind as to tell you that you have dropped a banknote. In the time it takes you to try to pick it up, this person will be gone… and your bank card as well. In fact, this person was not kindly waiting for his turn, while you were carrying out your transaction : he was looking over your shoulder and trying to catch a glimpse of your secret code. Now that he has got hold of your bank card and secret code, he will use them for withdrawing money from your account.

Telling you that you have dropped a banknote is just one way, for he may as well try to have a chat with you in order to divert your attention. You may be a victim of shoulder surfing not only at a selfbank unit, but also at a point-of-sale terminal, a petrol station, a hospital, etc.
Shoulder surfing does not only happen in Belgium, but has become widespread all over Europe.

What does your bank do?

The Belgian financial institutions have already taken numeous measures in order to make you aware of the danger of shoulder surfing and to put a halt to it :

  • Messages on the cash dispenser screen will draw your attention to the importance of discreetly carrying out your transactions.
  • The walls around the keyboard or the cash dispenser as such should offer you protection against indiscreet looks.
  • The posters hung up in the selfbank units should help making customers more aware of the existence of Card Stop.

What can you do?

You may also contribute to security by keeping in mind the following warnings:

At the selfbank unit

  • Use your free hand for covering the keyboard when you enter your secret code.
  • Never enter you secret code when you are asked to do so by someone else.
  • Make sure that nobody is looking over your shoulder and that there is sufficient distance between you and the other people who are queuing up, when it is your turn to carry out your transaction.
  • Beware of people who are excessively willing to help you when you are withdrawing money, for they may indeed be trying to deceive you in orderto get hold of your bank card.
  • Immediately get into contact with Card Stop (tel. 070 344 344) in case of loss, robbery or any other incidence (e.g. if you think your bank card is stuck in the cash dispenser). We recommend you to dial the number by yourself and to explain on your own what has happened.

Common use of payment cards

  • Make sure that your secret code will not be disclosed.
    • Never tell your secret code to someone else.
    • Never note it down on your card nor on a document that is kept together with your card.
    • Never use a code that is easy to crack (such as a date of birth or a series of ciphers that follow one another).
    • Immediately switch to a different secret code, if you think someone has managed to crack it.
  • Always keep your bank card in a place that is safe.

What to do if anything goes wrong?

If you have been the victim of shoulder surfing, you will be reimbursed by your financial institution minus a 150 EUR franchise, unless you are guilty of fraudulent intentions or gross negligence.

What is meant by gross negligence?

The following are an example of ‘gross negligence’:

  • noting down your secret code on your card or on a document that is kept together with your card.
  • failing to immediately get into contact with Card Stop as soon as you have noticed that your card has been lost or robbed.

These are just two examples of gross negligence according to the law, but other facts or customer acts may also be considered as gross negligence. This qualification will be given on the basis of the actual circumstances taken as whole.