ATMs are certainly convenient and can be a real life-saver if you need fast cash. However, if you’re not careful, they also have the potential to give criminals access to your money or your identity.
In most cases, common sense is adequate to keep you safe, but here are a few extra safety tips you should try to remember next time you head to the ATM:
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Before you approach the ATM, look around to see if there is anybody or anything nearby that looks suspicious. If in doubt, go somewhere else.
2. Look at the machine carefully before swiping your card. If you are a regular ATM user, you are probably familiar with how the machine should look and function. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t just brush it off. Scammers may try to install card skimmers or hidden cameras on the ATM to steal your bank account information when you insert your card.
3. Be ready long before you approach the machine. Don’t stand at the ATM and fumble in your purse for your credit card. The faster you are able to get your transaction completed, the less likely you are to become a victim of a crime.
4. If visiting an ATM at night, choose a well-lit location without a lot of trees or other objects nearby that might obstruct your vision of the surroundings. ATM’s within convenience stores are also well lit and supervised.
5. If using a drive-up ATM, keep your car doors locked and roll up all the windows. You could be an easy target for a robbery if someone has just seen you leave the ATM with a wad of cash in hand.
6. Get cash out of sight quickly. Don’t walk away from the ATM with a pile of twenties wadded in your fist. Immediately put it in your wallet or purse so it’s not out on display for everyone to see.
7. Never tell anyone else your PIN number. Don’t write it down and keep it in your purse or wallet or even somewhere “safe” in your house—if someone were to steal it, they would have all they need to drain your account without a trace.
8. Hold on to your receipts. You never know when you might need one of them for help with a fraud or identity theft case. The absolute worst thing you can do is throw them away immediately in the nearest trash bin. A criminal may be able to fish it out and steal your personal information.
9. Regularly review your bank statements and check for any suspicious withdrawals or charges. Inform your bank immediately if you suspect foul play.