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ATM Safety Tips

ATM Insert Card

As everyone knows, automated teller machines (ATMs) are everywhere. They can be found not only at banks, but also at shopping malls, convenience stores, drug stores, grocery stores, etc. The list goes on and on.

The presence of an ATM poses three potential safety threats. Two of these threats relate to the machine itself and the individuals who service it. However, the third (and most serious) concern relates to the safety of the person using the machine. A would-be robber will obviously know an individual using an ATM will usually be leaving the machine with money.

While protecting one's money is indeed important, what's more important is protecting your well-being. The following are some ATM safety and security tips. Take a few minutes to read them over and try to remember them the next time you pay a visit to an ATM, particularly one that is someplace unfamiliar to you. 

  • At a drive-up ATM, keep all windows closed except the one you are using. To keep from getting blocked in, wait until the vehicle in front of you has left the area. Keep all doors locked as well. Keep the vehicle running (in gear if possible and safe  do so). Watch in front, behind and on the sides. If someone walks up to your vehicle, cancel the transaction and leave.
  • When approaching the ATM, be alert for anything or anyone suspicious in the area.  (Is there shrubbery in the area that could conceal someone?) If something just doesn't look or feel right, leave.
  • Never approach an ATM if the lights at the site are not working.
  • Before you approach the ATM, have your card ready, know your code and have any slips, forms or envelopes (if needed) already completed. (If needed, keep a few blanks in your car.)
  • When using an ATM and someone approaches and gets closer to you than you are comfortable with, cancel the transaction and wait in your locked vehicle until that person leaves - or go to another ATM.
  • Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not write it down on your card or carry it in your wallet or purse.
  • Select a PIN that is different from other numbers in your wallet or purse, such as your birth date, address, social security number, etc.  (Of course, you shouldn't carry your Social Security Number with you!) 
  • When using the ATM, stand directly in front of it, blocking the view of others.  Don't enter your PIN if someone else can see the keyboard.  As unusual as it may sound, criminals have been known to use high powered equipment to see PINs.  If your card is stolen or a false card is manufactured, your money then becomes vulnerable.
  • Never accept offers of assistance with the ATM from strangers.
  • When your transaction is complete, immediately take your property - card, receipt, money, etc., put them in your pocket, wallet or purse and leave immediately.
  • Do not stand and count your money.  Count it later.  Besides, if it is wrong, you cannot discuss it with the machine.
  • As you leave the machine, keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
  • If you exit your vehicle to use an ATM, lock your doors.  When walking back, have your keys handy so that you can re-enter your car quickly.
  • Never tell your PIN to anyone.  Likewise, never lend your card to anyone.  Treat it like cash or a credit card.