Credit-card and ATM fraud is widespread in Brazil, especially in the Northeast. Card cloning (clonagem in Portuguese) is the preferred method: an entrepreneurial opportunist sticks a false card reader into an ATM that copies your card and steals the PIN when you come along and withdraw money. Shazam! A few hours later, $1500 disappears from your account in Recife while you and your card are safe and sound sipping caipirinhas on the beach in Natal!
To combat fraud, restaurants will bring the credit-card machine to your table or ask you to accompany them to the cashier to run a credit-card transaction. Never let someone walk off with your card. Other tips:
- Use high-traffic ATMs inside banks during banking hours only.
- Always cover the ATM keypad when entering personal codes.
- Avoid self-standing ATMs whenever possible and never use an ATM that looks tampered with.