While many people have come to prefer using their debit and credit cards for most purchases, there are still some environments when it is easier or even required to use cash: concerts, festivals, sporting events, etc. In instances like these, using an ATM is an ideal alternative to having to go to your local branch. However, using an ATM also requires that you be extremely careful; thieves have been known to employ all sorts of tactics at ATMs, from waiting in bushes nearby, to rigging illegal cameras to collect card and pin numbers. When you do need to use an ATM, be sure to take these five things into consideration and create the safest environment possible when doing your transaction.
When: Always try to go during the day when the sun is out and you can clearly see your surroundings. If this isn’t possible, be extremely cautious and only choose an ATM that is in a brightly lit location.
Where: Try to select an ATM that is in a highly populated and frequented area. When you go up to an ATM, notice if there are any tall bushes or easy hiding places for thieves. Some ATMs residing in larger building complexes, like those by grocery stores. In this case, try to find an ATM that is closer to the middle of the building so you can avoid people lingering around corners.
Who: If someone is getting too close to you during your transaction, or is offering to help you with a transaction, they could be trying to find out your PIN number and card information. Do yourself a favor and end the transaction as quickly as possible and choose a different ATM to finish your money withdrawal.
What: When you come up to an ATM, make sure to notice details about the kiosk. Does something look off about the ATM? Is the machine asking you questions you are unfamiliar with or seems to be behaving unusually? In situations like this, it is better to take your transaction elsewhere.
How: During your transaction, always keep aware of your surroundings. As soon as you leave, be sure to observe anything suspicious going on by the ATM. If you feel you’re being followed or pursued, quickly go to a high-traffic area and call the police.
There are alternatives to ATMs, too. If you need cash but can't make it to your local branch, you also have the option to get cash back from retail stores when you make a purchase.
What other ways do you protect yourself when going to an ATM? Share your ideas in the comments below!