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Posted : 2009-02-23 19:21
Updated : 2009-02-23 19:21

Police to Ban Cellphone Use Around ATM

By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

Police are seeking to install blocking equipment to stop cell phones from receiving signals near ATMs in a move to counter increasing phone scams, commonly called ``voice phishing.''

The National Police Agency (NPA) said Monday it will introduce preemptive measures to keep ATM users from talking on their cell phones. Senior citizens and housewives often fall victim to hackers who con people into providing their confidential personal information over the phone.

``We are considering ways to keep people from using cell phones while they are at ATMs, because a growing number of senior citizens have fallen victim to the fraudulent phone calls,'' an officer said.

He said equipment blocking the use of cell phones near ATMs will prevent people from transferring money using the machines to scammer's bank accounts. The NPA has recently received increased complaints from senior citizens deceived by scammers who pose as law enforcement agents, prosecutors or financial executives. For instance, scammers pretending to be officials from financial firms tell people that their financial information has been exposed and direct them to ATMs to transfer their money to a ``safer'' account.

In Japan, cell phones already cannot be used near ATMs as electronic gadgets installed block signals, according to the police agency. Police plan to ask the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to share relevant information to launch the system and set regulations in the near future. Also, it will form partnerships with financial institutes and telecom firms.

``With scammers' already sophisticated skills evolving, cooperation with police, banks and phone companies is essential to crackdown on the phone scams,'' the officer said. ``We expect this new device, if installed, to help halt phone crimes.''

pss@koreatimes.co.kr

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