How To Stay Safe When It Comes To ATM’s
Bank ATM machines are great. You run out of cash, you go to the ATM after banking hours or you go because it’s closer to your home or it’s more convenient when running errands. Whatever, you slip in your bank card, punch in your personal pin number, and boom, there’s your cash. Couldn’t be easier.
However, ATM machines can often be a magnet for crooks, who may be lingering nearby because they have discovered robbing patrons of ATMs also, at times, “couldn’t be easier.”
Here are some ways to play it safe when it comes to using ATM machines.
If at all possible, try to limit your visits to ATM machines. Thieves needing cash love to linger about at ATM’s, taking special note of somone who visits the same one on a regular basis. Such crooks will usually look for someone either alone or a woman with children in the car.
And people get robbed at drive-through ATM’s as well as stand alone ones, even in broad daylight. Think about it. Even if you walk up to an ATM in a busy business section where there are lots of other people, do you think anyone is going to really pay much attention or see a crook coming up and threatening you with a hidden gun that only you know is there? We have been taught to look away from ATM’s when someone is withdrawing cash and those of us who are honest usually do so on instinct alone.
Now, when making a purchase, you can also usually withdraw up to $50 cash back (sometimes more) from your bank account at larger grocery stores, the post office, even at larger department stores like K-Mart and Wal-Mart or large chain drugstores.
Best of all, there aren’t always fees involved as with the ATM’s (although sometimes there are fees, but you’re still usually safer getting your money this way).
If you need a larger amount of cash, drive to the bank and go in, where there are cameras and security around.
Or, if you can’t go into the bank for some reason, instead of driving through and using the ATM, write a check and drive through one of the lines where a teller will be able to cash your check. That way you will be dealing one on one with others and won’t be as vulnerable as if you’re driving through alone and using the ATM.
Of course, there are times, despite your best efforts, you may need to use ATM. In that case, just keep your guard up.
If it’s after hours and the ATM is in back of the bank, away from the highway and in a rather isolated area, it’s usually worth it to find an ATM less isolated, even if you have to pay a small fee to use a different ATM than your bank’s unsuitably-located ATM. (ATM’s do usually have cameras attached to them as well, but that still won’t help you keep your money or stay safe then if someone decides to rob you at gunpoint there).
If someone is behind you at an ATM and they’re on a cell phone, be careful they don’t get too close.
Sometimes a potential thief will pretend to be talking on a camera cell phone and will edge closer, as though they’re involved in the conversation. Once close enough, they take a quick photo of your card, with its account number, as well as your pin number you punch in. A lot of camera phones don’t make detailed photos, but a lot these days do, and photos can always be enlarged later to capture detail.
Sometimes crooks will just loiter behind you, with any card in hand so that you’ll assume it’s an ATM bank card (and most of us would) and try to edge closer just to get the same type of information.
A variation of this theme is for someone to be in front of you, trying to use the ATM when you walk up, and they are politely and totally confused because “their card won’t seem to work.”
“Hmmm,” they will say, very friendly and casual. “That’s odd. It should work.”
Then they will step back and invite you to “go ahead and try yours” just to see if the machine is working.
And, of course, the ATM works fine for you. So the stranger thanks you and you walk away and they step up to try their “bad card” one more time, just for appearance’s sake as you start to leave.
Only chances are it won’t work then either. That’s because they probably have some type of bogus card. It doesn’t matter if it works at this point or not, the rest of this display is just for show until you are out of sight. So you won’t suspect anything is amiss hopefully, until it’s too late.
Why the ruse? Because by gaining your trust and getting close enough to you they have now met their desired objective. They have been able to take note of your account number and pin number while you were “helping them out” by checking the machine with your own bank card.
Bottom line, when it comes to using ATM’s if anyone is getting too close for comfort, just cancel the transaction if you can and walk quickly away. Getting some cash to spend is not worth risking your safety.
It may all be perfectly innocent, of course. Some people don’t always realize the importance of not getting too close, but why take a chance?
ATM’s are probably one of the most useful devices ever invented, but they can present a lot of potential danger.
So keep your eyes and ears open and be aware of what is going on around you whenever you have to use one of these machines.
And if you can avoid using one, especially after hours, then don’t. Get your ready cash inside a crowded business instead, like a large grocery or national discount store.
ATM machines are great devices, but why put yourself or, worse, your family at risk if you can possibly avoid doing so? Stay safe when using any ATM machine.