5 Tips for ATM Safety
May 10, 2013 1 Comment
ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are a common, everyday part of our modern lives. Ohio Valley Bank introduced Gallia County’s first ATM back in 1979 (though when the ATM was truly invented is still debated) and today you can usually find one nearby, no matter where you might be. They are in coffee shops, shopping malls, convenience stores, and you can even find them in courthouses. They are great for grabbing some quick cash, making a deposit, or checking your account balance, but with this proliferation of ATMs comes the opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to abuse them. ATM fraud is a valid concern we should all be aware of. Let’s take a quick look at some of the best practices one can remember when dealing with ATMs.
- Keep Your PIN Safe at All Times. Do not share your card’s Personal Identification Number (PIN) with anyone. If you must keep your PIN written down, do not store it with your card. When entering your PIN at an ATM, be certain that no one behind you can see you keying it in. Shield the keypad with your body. You know the saying: “Old tricks are the best tricks”, and thieves have been glancing over people’s shoulders for years to get a peek at an unsuspecting person’s PIN. Don’t let them!
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings. If you can avoid using an ATM in the dark please do so. If you cannot then try to find an ATM that is well-lit and free from nearby obstructions that a thief can hide behind (shrubbery for example). Also take a buddy with you. There is safety in numbers after all. Be sure to take precautions when approaching/leaving an ATM. Have your card ready, holding it in a manner that covers the numbers. Take your cash and receipt quickly, placing them immediately in your purse or wallet. Don’t walk away from the ATM with your cash still in your hands. Pickpockets watch for this sort of thing.
- Don’t Trust a Suspicious-Looking ATM. The most popular method thieves are employing today to get your card and account details is called skimming. Skimming involves placing devices in the card reader that can read and record your card information when you swipe it. (Note: This method is very popular for stealing card details from gas pumps too.) Take a moment to look at the ATM you’re about to use. Does it seem as if the card input has been damaged or is loose? If so these could be signs of tampering. If you are ever uncertain of an ATM then please do not use it. The inconvenience of having to travel to the next ATM is far outweighed by the inconvenience of having your account information stolen. So if something about the ATM looks fishy, please report it to a bank representative. This ties in with our next tip…
- Only Allow a Bank Employee to Assist You. If you need assistance with an ATM please seek out a bank employee. Asking for help from just anyone that happens by is very risky. While someone may seem eager to help they could also be just as eager to help themselves to your account details.
- Practice Safety at the Drive-Thru. Most of the above tips apply specifically to walk-up ATMs but being safe applies at drive-thru ATMs as well. When pulling up to the ATM make sure that all of your doors are locked and that your windows are closed. If you are in line behind another car be sure to give yourself room to leave if necessary.
ATMs are a great convenience in our busy lives, but like seemingly everything else that involves your money there are those who will abuse it. The easiest way to combat these thieves and keep your money safe is to be careful. Be on the lookout for anything, or anyone, suspicious about an ATM you’re intending to use. If you don’t feel comfortable about it for any reason then move on. These days there are ATMs all over the place so finding an alternative won’t be too difficult. If that isn’t an option you can always (gasp!) walk into your local branch and withdraw money from a teller.