ATMs may be one of the easiest ways to access the money in your bank account, but they are also a target for theft. Criminals have been known to try taking cash right out of your hands upon leaving the ATM, or even stealing your personal identification number (PIN) at the ATM. This risk can be higher depending on the machine’s location or the time of day. Don’t let this scare you from ever using an ATM again though – you can take plenty of safety precautions to protect yourself and your money.
Here are our top ATM security tips for the next time you plan to withdraw money.
Keep your PIN private
If someone can steal your PIN, they can likely pretend to be you and use your account. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings when using your card at an ATM. Someone waiting in line behind you can peer over your shoulder to see your PIN, or even withdraw more money if you forgot to end your transaction before walking away.
A more stealthy way criminals can try to take your money is by installing card skimmers on ATMs to capture people’s debit cards. Skimmers are hard to identify, making it challenging to even know your information has been compromised. Without taking proper precautions, your information can be sold online or used by criminals to make purchases.
Here are some tips for protecting your ATM/Debit card:
- Inspect the ATM for possible skimming devices. Some red flags include sticky residue from an adhesive, damaged pieces, loose or extra attachments on the card slot, or noticeable resistance with pressing the keypad. Check out our ATM card skimming and fraud prevention guide for more information and images.
- Cover your hand over the ATM keypad as you enter your PIN so no one around you can see.
- Never write down your PIN or tell anyone your number. Keep it as private as possible.
- Never give information about your ATM card or PIN over the phone. If your bank calls asking for you to verify your PIN, it is likely a scam.
- Consistently check your accounts for suspicious activity.
- Keep your card in a safe place and don’t ever leave it lying around – even at home.
Be alert at the ATM
No matter where you’re using an ATM, you’ll need to scan your surroundings for suspicious activity. If you notice someone waiting in a nearby car or hanging around while keeping an eye on you, try coming back later or using a different ATM. You’ll want to use your judgment – if something doesn’t feel safe, you’re probably right.
After withdrawing cash, stay alert. Some criminals may try to follow you. If you think that’s the case, find a heavily populated area and call the police. We recommend following these precautions every time you visit the ATM:
- Bring someone with you when you go to the ATM.
- Lock your doors at drive-thru ATMs.
- Avoid using ATM machines at night.
- Have your card ready as you get to the ATM, and do not linger and count your cash once it’s withdrawn from the machine.
- Don’t leave your transaction receipt at the ATM.
- If someone approaches you at the ATM and demands money, give it to them. No amount of money is worth risking your life. Call the authorities as soon as you’re somewhere safe if this happens.
View additional ATM skimming safety tips in our YouTube video.
At First Financial, we are here to help protect our members from fraud, scams, and identity theft. If you have any concerns or questions about any of your First Financial accounts, please call member services at 732.312.1500 or visit one of our branches.
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