According to police data, ATM fraud has caused an estimated Bt100 million in damage so far, with the latest case earlier this month seeing multiple victims in Chumphon losing Bt3 million.
To stem the rash of thefts, banks are quickly spending on reinforcing ATM security to restore customer confidence.
But cardholders also have the responsibility to protect their own accounts.
Imagine this: As you withdraw cash from a rigged ATM, an electronic data-skimming device already inserted inside the card slot by thieves steals personal information from your card.
Simultaneously, a tiny spy camera hidden somewhere inside the ATM booth watches as you punch in your personal identification number (PIN) on the keypad.
Then, the fraudsters only need to produce a counterfeit ATM card and drain your account with your own PIN.
Experts say the older models - still making up about 20 per cent of the nationwide ATM base - are more vulnerable to data skimming than the new types.
Of the 30,000 ATMs deployed countrywide, 60-70 per cent already have anti-skimming devices installed costing Bt4,000-Bt7,000 each.
The remaining unsafe units will soon be similarly equipped.
According to the Thai Bankers' Association, all member banks should complete ATM security measures by June, while old ATMs, which do not support anti-skimming devices, must be replaced or fully upgraded.
Member banks failing to comply with the deadline will have to take responsibility for any financial losses caused by skimming.
Phole Dhanashoti, presi-dent of the ATM Services Business Club, said yesterday every bank should be able to meet the deadline as it takes only two to three months to finish fitting devices.
Yongyuth Pisiviloth, senior vice president of Siam City Bank (SCIB), a member of the ATM club, said his bank had completed anti-skimming equipment installation for 70-80 per cent of its 1,600 ATMs.
Besides the anti-skimming devices, banks also need to install closed-circuit televisions (CCTV) at every ATM to act as a deterrent by capturing images of fraud perpetrators.
It still remains undecided if banks operating ATMs will have to shoulder the financial responsibility for data skimming at their units as issuing banks are currently liable for customer compensation.
Prasarn Trairatvorakul, president of Kasikornbank, admitted that his bank had to reimburse customers even though the crime was committed at another bank's ATM.
"We need to install anti-skimming equipment at every ATM to be effective," Prasarn said.
Soon, banks will have to upgrade their magnetic-stripe ATM cards into chip-embedded versions to make data stealing harder, to stay one step ahead of the criminals.
Monitoring abnormal transactions is another method to deal with the conmen, said Luecha Sukrasebya, executive vice president of TMB Bank.
But the best way is probably to increase customer awareness of the danger, with emphasis on cardholders keeping their PINs a secret.
A Bank of Thailand source said one of the safety guidelines is to install surveillance cameras at all ATMs, particularly those located in risky areas.