Best safety practices for using ATMs

Over time, ATM cards have become a staple in modern banking. Many people even perceive ATMs as a necessity these days. There are many tangible benefits associated with being able to do banking and withdraw cash from a 24-hour access machine. No longer are individuals confined to what was traditionally known as ‘banker’s hours,’ with the advent of ATMs, there is flexibility of access to cash and bank information.

Along with flexibility, however, comes a level of risk. While tightly ingrained in routine banking, ATMs do carry some safety issues, but these do not have to be a deterrent as long as the threats are understood, steps can be taken to reduce the chance of any potential issues.

Be aware of surroundings

When using an ATM machine, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings. Do not use ATMs in dark or isolate areas if you are alone, and always be aware of everything around you. Look for individuals watching the machine from a distance, either on foot or in a car, and be conscientious you are not being followed when you finish your ATM transaction. If anything seems off, do not use that machine, walk away and find another ATM in a safer location.

Learn about ATM skimmers

Unfortunately, ATM is a real risk, and the fraud of ATM skimming is not only on the upswing, but is also becoming more sophisticated in nature as technology progresses. What this scam entails is a device being inserted into an ATM machine and it captures the information stored on the card and is retrieved by the thief. Sometimes these devices can be detected if you examine the machine carefully prior to inserting your card; however some modern gadgets can be placed inside the ATM machine making detection more difficult. Skimming is often difficult to detect, but knowing what to look for and learning how to avoid falling victim to skimming scams can reduce possible risk. If you ever receive an error message during an ATM transaction, check with your bank to ensure the machine is intact as it should be and has not been tampered with.

Protect your PIN number and tuck cash away

To preserve the integrity of your PIN number, do not write the number down and carry it on your person. Your PIN is the key to the virtual entry to your bank account, and if someone steals your card number and has your PIN, they can access and steal your money. When you insert your card and enter your PIN, cover the pinpad with your hand to avoid potential prying eyes or a hidden camera. Scammers frequently strategically place cameras to be used in conjunction with a skimmer.

After you have withdrawn your cash, put it away until you are in a safe place. It is not a good practice to count money at the machine to draw attention to yourself. It is more secure to play it safe and tuck your cash away. Count it when you get back into your car or in another secure location.

Prepare paperwork away from ATM suggests to prepare all transaction paperwork before you walk or drive up to the ATM machine, this way it minimizes the time you spend in front of the machine. Additionally, they recommend if you decide to use a drive-up ATM, lock your doors, do not turn off your car, and be sure to leave enough space between yourself and the car in front of you. This way you aren’t ‘locked’ in and unable to escape if needed.

ATMs are a great convenience, but using these machines does carry some risk. However, practicing safe ATM habits and being aware of scams and other frauds can help mitigate any of the potential problems. With these factors in mind, you can enjoy the benefits associated with automatic teller machines.