Don’t Fear the ATM
It was a dark and stormy night. A young woman approached the ATM aside a dimly lit sidewalk to withdraw some cash. As she neared the machine, she heard a faint rustling behind a bush. She squinted her eyes and peered through the leaves, where she thought she could make out a large, dark shadow. She felt uneasy, so she walked back to her car and drove to another ATM with better lighting, making a transaction there without a problem. If you want to avoid potentially scary situations at ATMs, here are some tips stay safe.
Keep your eyes open
Take note of your surroundings. If anyone is loitering near the machine or in a parked car close by, consider another location. If you’re using a drive-up ATM, make sure all your windows are rolled up and your doors are locked before making a transaction.
Inspect the machine before inserting a card. Scammers can install skimming devices to steal your information for later use. Look for glue-like residue, excessive scratches, loose or crooked pieces, and other signs of damage. If you see anything unusual, don’t proceed and notify the building owner.
If you’re using an ATM at night, bring someone with you or try to find a high-traffic area with bright lights. Trust your gut. If you feel strange or if the person behind you seems to be peering over your shoulder at the keypad, hit cancel and go elsewhere.
Minimize the time
Park as close as you can, have your card available, and be ready to go. If you’re taking out money, decide how much you want before you approach the ATM. And don’t count it while you’re standing there; put it in your pocket or purse and do that later. For deposits, endorse your checks and fill out all the slips in advance.
Guard your information
Memorize your PIN & keep it a secret. Don’t write it down, especially not on the back of your card, as that will give thieves immediate access. Place your body squarely in front of the machine and cover the keys with your hand while entering the number. Never permit a stranger to help you.
When the receipt pops out, take it with you and, before throwing it away, tear it into small pieces. Regularly check your statements, as well, which is fast & simple with free online banking. If you discover any unapproved ATM withdrawals, contact your financial institution immediately.
Most ATM transactions occur without incident, but if someone does try to rob you, comply with any demands. After all, your life is worth more than the cash.