ATM Safety

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) have revolutionized banking allowing customers to do their banking 24 hours a day. They also, however, have been a great help for thieves looking for quick cash. This workshop focuses on some of the things to be aware of when you use your ATM.

  • Memorize Your PIN: Don't write it down on your card, or on a piece of paper you store in your wallet. If your card or wallet were stolen, the thief would have your PIN.
  • Be Ready for Your Transaction: have your card ready, have your code in your head, and fill out any deposit envelopes before you approach the ATM. Take some envelopes with you and complete them at home or in your locked car at your next transactions.
  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Look at the area around the ATM; is it well-lit? Is it in a remote area, or are there many cars passing by? Are there any cars or people 'hanging out' in the area? Is your gut instinct telling you this is a safe area? Consider using the ATM during daylight hours, when you can see better and others can see you better. If you must use an ATM at night, consider one inside an open business like a grocery store.
  • Protect Your Code: When using the ATM, block other people's view; don't allow others to see your code, what type of transaction you are making, or how much money you are withdrawing.
  • Lines in the Area: If there is a line behind you in the ATM and someone is too close to you, ask them to step back. If they do not step back, you may want to cancel your transaction and either wait in your car, or use the ATM at another time.
  • Quickly Put Away Your Money: Put your money in your wallet and put your wallet away immediately. Count your money when you are safely inside your car or home. Before you leave the ATM, check your surroundings - is anyone around? Also put away your card and receipt.
  • Avoid Large Cash Withdrawals: If you were robbed or lost your wallet, at least you would only lose a smaller amount of cash.
  • Take All of Your Receipts With You: Don't let a potential thief know how much money you have withdrawn or how much you have in the bank.
  • If You are Driving: Park as close as you can to the ATM, and lock your doors. Keep your keys handy so you can enter your car quickly after completing your transaction.
  • Drive-Up ATMs: Assess the surroundings of the ATM - are people 'hanging around' on foot or in vehicles? If it feels unsafe to you, choose another ATM. Keep your doors locked. Keep all windows up except the one you are using. Keep the car running and keep aware of your surroundings.
  • Check Your Account Report: Notify your bank and the police if you notice any suspicious or unauthorized ATM transactions on your monthly statement.
  • If Your Card is Stolen: Immediately contact the police department where you are, and contact the financial institution responsible for the ATM card. Thieves typically have about a four to eight hour window they can use stolen ATM and credit cards since owners don't report them stolen right away. You may not be liable for any items debited from your account if you report it right away.
  • Bring a Friend: A thief is less likely to attempt to rob you if you have someone with you.
  • If You are Followed: Go to an open business and call the police. Provide a description and direction of travel of the person or vehicle following you.