Security & Fraud

Wells Fargo Rolling Out ATM Withdrawals Via Smartphones

Wells Fargo & Co., the embattled bank, will enable customers to withdraw money via a smartphone starting next week.

According to a report in Reuters, customers will be able to withdraw money via a smartphone at any ATM that is branded by Wells Fargo. In an interview, Jonathan Velline, Wells Fargo’s head of ATM and branch banking, said that the bank decided to enable the ability to withdraw money via smartphones to its 13,000 cash machines after a successful pilot in a handful of locations around the country. Wells Fargo is taking a page from Bank of America Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co, both of which already announced ATM upgrades to support mobile withdrawals. Wells Fargo, noted Reuters, is the first to roll out the ability across all of its ATMs.

According to the report, Wells Fargo’s mobile customers, which is in the 20 million range, will be able to get an eight-digit code to enter alongside their PIN at the ATM and then withdraw cash.

“The new feature allows customers to withdraw cash at any time, even when they don’t have their cards on them,” Velline said in the interview with Reuters. “Security certainly was a big aspect of the cardless feature, and the two-step identification helps reduce the risk of fraud.”

Velline noted the elimination of cards prevented so-called skimming techniques that criminals use to get data off of the debit cards inserted into ATMs.

While the banks embracing this new feature talk about the security behind it, there have been instances where the bad guys were able to work around it. In January, Krebs on Security found that that feature can be hacked, with fraudsters quickly and quietly taking stolen bank account usernames and passwords and getting cash out of ATMs with them. The source highlighted a story of a victim who was scammed out of $2,900 from her account after someone stole her username and password, added a new mobile phone number to her account and then moved money from the savings to the checking account to steal from the ATM.

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