When withdrawing money from an ATM, it’s important to take proper steps to protect both your card and information as well as your own personal safety. There are many security concerns to stay aware of when using an ATM, whether it’s a drive-up, in a shopping center, in a convenience store, etc. Here’s how to keep you and your information safe.
1. Always Be Alert
When you are using an ATM, robberies can happen. Robbers know that you will be walking away with cash in your possession after using the machine, which makes you an easy target, particularly after dark. According to the Bank Administration Institute, roughly 40% of ATM-related crimes occur between 7:00pm and 12:00am.
If you are approaching an ATM after dark, either have someone else with you or ensure that the area is well-lit and there are security cameras in place. Additionally, always be cognizant of your surroundings and look for anything suspicious, such as people loitering nearby. Once you’ve made the transaction, immediately return your cash and card to your purse or wallet – do not stand by the machine to count the money. If there is a mistake, you can contact your financial institution later. If you are at a drive-up ATM, keep all your vehicle doors locked.
2. Protect Your PIN (personal identification number)
Firstly, never share your PIN with anyone or borrow your card to someone. Always be sure to memorize your pin and do not write it down or keep it on your person – access to your PIN is the easiest way for criminals to steal your debit information.
When you are using the ATM, always stand directly in front of the machine and cover the keys with your hand when entering your PIN. If there is anyone standing too closely or who can see the screen, ask them politely to step back or do not go through with the transaction at that time.
Covering your PIN when entering it also helps to avoid theft from hidden cameras installed illegally and used to steal your information.
3. Be Wary of ATM Skimmers
ATM skimmers are quite dangerous as they can be hard to recognize. Essentially, criminals will install equipment on legitimate ATMs that collect the users card number and PIN when scanned. This is more likely to occur on standalone ATMs or machines in areas with little to no security. Before inserting your card into an ATM, examine the machine for any suspicious looking equipment. Oftentimes, a skimmer will stick out a couple of extra inches from the ATM. If you have any doubts, find another ATM that you know is under video surveillance or is inside of a bank.
4. Report a Lost or Stolen Card
If you lose, misplace, or have your debit card stolen, immediately contact your financial institution to either lock your card or cancel it. If your card is reported prior to any unauthorized use, you will not be held responsible for any future withdrawals. You may be responsible for between $50 to $500 depending on how long you wait to report it, or even total loss of funds.
The most important way to stay safe when using an ATM is to be diligent and alert. Keep your card in a safe place at all times and always be aware of your surroundings.
For more financial tips and best practices, visit our library of resources. If you’d like to speak to a banker, contact us at Republic Bank by calling 800-526-9127.