With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season also comes an unfortunate increase in crime rates. With hectic shoppers rushing around distracted by their to-do lists, thieves are often waiting for the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this shopping madness.
ATM theft remains a prevalent crime during this time of year since more people tend to make regular cash withdrawals during the holidays. Here are some essential precautions to take when using an ATM to ensure that you and your money are safe.
1) Your PIN, Your Secret
You should always protect your ATM Personal Identification Number (PIN). Never share your PIN with anyone. When using an ATM, be sure to shield your hand when you are entering your PIN. If you suspect that your PIN was stolen or compromised, contact your financial institution right away to notify them and to disable that particular card. Many institutions also provide the option to disable the card online or through their mobile banking app.
2) Stop the Count
Avoid counting money unnecessarily at the ATM when depositing or withdrawing funds. Before making a deposit, it’s advisable to count the money at a private place well in advance, preferably at home. Then separate it from the rest of the money you don’t intend to deposit. In addition, avoid counting cash in your car at the ATM parking lot — you never know who’s closely watching or following you.
3) Have Everything Ready
One of the most common mistakes people make at an ATM is searching for their cards and money while at the machine. This distraction gives criminals the perfect opportunity to commit a crime. Be sure to have everything ready before arriving at the ATM.
4) Watch Your Surroundings
Always be conscious of your surroundings when visiting an ATM. If any suspicious people are hanging around or the ATM you are visiting is not well lit, it may be best to go to another ATM.
5) Get In and Out
Avoid staying at the ATM for too long. After depositing or withdrawing cash, leave the ATM as quickly as possible. Avoid conversations, especially with strangers. Some people may be there to slow you down and distract you intentionally.
6) Don’t Seek Help from Strangers
As strange as it sounds, some people seek help from strangers at the ATM. Even if the network is slow or the machine doesn’t seem to work, don’t let just anyone help you out. Instead, consider going to another ATM or finding a safe place to call the financial institution and inform them about the problem.
7) Don’t Go Alone at Night
If you intend to visit the ATM at night, make sure you have the company of someone you trust. Criminals are more likely to seek out individuals who are by themselves.
8) Keep Your Receipt
Don’t leave your receipt behind. In the modern world of technology, your receipt could give away important details about your identity, credit card, financial accounts, etc. A skilled hacker can then use this information to access your account or invade your privacy. It’s therefore advisable to keep the receipt and dispose of it safely, preferably at home.
9) Be Aware of ATM Skimmers
ATM skimmers are devices attached to an ATM disguised to look like part of the ATM. Fraudsters can use these devices to obtain your account information and personal identification number. The most frequent places for ATM skimmer devices are the PIN keypad and card insert slot. Some signs that an ATM skimmer was placed include a raised or bulky card reader, glue or tape anywhere on the ATM, or a small camera used to capture you entering your PIN. Small cameras, for example, might be located above the PIN pad or on an ATM shelf or ledge and could be disguised by another object. Consider going to another ATM if you notice any bulky or loose pieces of equipment attached to the ATM.
If you suspect that the ATM you’re using may have a skimming device or if you see something that doesn’t quite seem right, notify the financial institution so they can take appropriate action.
10) Request Cash Back
Instead of visiting an ATM to withdraw money, consider asking for cash-back when shopping at a grocery store. This option provides a safer way to obtain cash and is often more convenient than making an extra trip to the ATM.
We’re Here to Help!
We encourage all members to follow these important ATM safety tips, especially throughout the holiday season. Keep in mind that ATM cards have a daily withdrawal limit. If you know you’ll need more money on a specific day, please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or Call 540-389-0244 to request a limit increase.