ATM Scams in Spain

ATM Machines the scams, which ones to avoid using so you don´t incur massive charges. This article also covers tampered machines and what to look out for- Keep yourself and your money safe.

The term ATM means - Automated/automatic Teller Machine

3rd March, Unlicenced ATMs - Benidorm town hall has had to "hold fire" on its plan to force the companies that own the 196 unlicenced ATM machines that are scattered around Benidorm to remove them. These machines charge high commissions, and give poor exchange rates, and have given rise to lots of complaints from tourists.

Reason for the "ceasefire".  Due to a  "computer error" the city council did not notify the owners of the machines in the correct way, and now have to give them 15 days to present appeals against the orders to remove them all.

LOCAL NEWS - 3rd February 2023 UNLICENCED ATMs
Benidorm town hall has finally started action, against the companies that operate the multitude of what they say are unlicenced ATM machines around the town.

The town hall has identified 196 machines, owned and run by 3 companies, which charge high commissions and give lower rates, especially to non Eurozone country customers.

The town hall has imposed a fine of 392,000€ which equates to around 2,000€ per machine, and given the three operators one month to remove them, under threat of much bigger fines.

The companies involved are - Euronet 360 LTD, which operate at least 137 money dispensers in Benidorm; Cardtronics SL, with 37 devices identified by the municipal inspection; and Euro Automatic Cash Entidad de Pago SL, with another 22.

The town hall adds that they are operating in town without the pertinent licences, nor paying corresponding taxes. They go on to say that the hidden commission on these can be around 4.5%, on non Eurozone customers.

ATM Scams

Over the last few years, you may have noticed that a lot of new ATM machines have been installed all over the town…. DO NOT use these unless in an emergency.  The reason there are so many of these arounds is because they make money out of people using them……

If you use a local Spanish bank card these machines are not too bad to use, but as a tourist using a foreign Bank Card, you are likely to lose up to 20% of your money on withdrawals and fees.

Firstly, these machines give you the option to withdraw large amounts of money ie 1000€, they will then give you the worst exchange rate they can (decline their conversation offer), not only that but you may be charged up to 5 pounds with every transaction, as stated above this can amount to you loosing up to 20% of your hard-earned money.

Always try to use the ATM machines at the main banks or those supplied by the banks, where you will get a better exchange rate and will be charged less commission, (commission rates will vary depending upon your bank, so read the small print).  Also, as a safeguard always inform your bank that you are going on holiday in Spain, that way they will be expecting some withdrawals from your account in Spain, if you don´t do this you run the risk of having your card blocked.

Other ATM Scams

Guardia Civil warn of new ATM scam in Spain.  Many thieves have specialized in the so-called “false front”, which consists of a simulation of the cashier equipped with cameras to capture the key of the card . This is why it is also recommended to check that there is no evidence of tampering. Of course, this also applies all over the world and not just here in Benidorm.

If you have problems with any ATM machine that you think may have been tampered with in any way, please contact the bank direct and call 062 or 112.

Things to look for –

ATM scams in Spain

and in English –

1 false front capture your key and money
2 bulky card slots may mean there is a skimmer
3 Loose slots, could be fake
4 loose keyboards, could be false
5 pay attention to who is around they may be waiting to use distraction techniques.


What to do when the ATM does not give you your money?

It may happen that we go to an ATM to withdraw money and after performing the correct banking operation, the machine does not give us the tickets. What to do then?

The Guardia Civil recommends a series of actions such as checking that the slot is not blocked, not trusting "volunteer helpers" and calling the bank. In addition, in no case should you leave the place:

ATM scams, The Lebanese Loop

The Civil Guard warns of the latest ATM fraud using the "Lebanese loop" technique.

The name of the "Lebanese loop" responds, in police jargon, to the method by which criminals keep money from ATMs. To do this, they stick a glue stick to the cashier's banknote extraction slot and when any customer comes to withdraw cash, the money stays rolled up inside the bar and the machine ends the transaction . The victim does not receive the money that he wanted to subtract but thinks that it is a technical fault of the cashier and leaves the place. Thus, scammers have a free way to approach the bar with the tickets stuck.

More information on Crime and other Scams to be aware of can be found HERE


  • These fines should have extended to the greedy companies/landlords who also made money by allowing them to be installed on their premises.
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