In today's fast paced consumer driven world, the use of automated teller machines at any time of the day or night to perform basic banking functions such as deposits, withdrawals, balance transfers and the like has become second nature to almost everyone. These types of transactions have become so commonplace that individuals often forget that the very nature of what they are doing makes them a direct target for the criminal element of our society. It is up to you to make your own personal safety your priority. Although practically every ATM is equipped with a video recording device, this may only help authorities apprehend someone who has committed a crime, it will not protect you from the harm of being the victim of a potentially violent crime.
Be alert, aware and in tune with your surroundings
Only use ATM's that are highly visible and well lit, in reputable areas and establishments. Look around and make sure that there are no strange or suspicious characters lurking in the shadows or around corners. If you are using one of the drive up type At Ms, make sure that all of your car doors are locked and that all of the other windows are rolled up.
Make sure that you are not at the ATM fumbling for paperwork, trying to find a pen to sign your check or fill out your deposit slip, or trying to find your ATM card, or talking on your cellular phone.
The moment that you complete transaction quickly put away your ATM card, receipt and cash if you withdrew funds. Move away from the ATM, return to your car and lock the doors, or if you are in your car pull away from the machine.
Protect your ATM card and your PIN number
Immediately report your card if it is lost or you suspect that it might have been stolen. Do not write down your PIN number, commit it to memory.
Protect the key pad from prying eyes when entering your PIN number at an ATM that is in a busy public location.
Beware of ATM tampering
Many ATM crimes are actually perpetrated by devices that have been attached to the ATM itself.
Card skimmers are devices that will read and store or transmit your card information when you swipe the card to begin your transaction, these devices can be placed near the device where you would actually swipe your card. Make sure that you are using the actual card reader that is for the ATM.
Some devices can actually steal your card, then they are retrieved by the crooks after you have left. Be alert of the key pad area, devices can be placed directly over the key pad, and store the PIN number that you entered. Other devices can trap the deposit or withdrawal as it enters or exits the machine.
If you notice anything about the ATM that seems unusual or flimsy or easily attached and removed, DO NOT USE the ATM. Report any suspicious activity or equipment to the police and your financial institution immediately.
Monitor your account transactions regularly and balance your monthly statements with your transaction receipts. The sooner that you identify any fraudulent activity on your accounts the less likely it is that you will be held responsible for them by your financial institution.
The most important factor in maintaining your personal safety and the integrity of your banking accounts when using ATM's to perform transactions is staying alert of your surroundings and being aware of potential dangers.