How to Stay Safe When Using an ATM
Here at UK Survival Guides, we want to do everything in our power to ensure that you can stay safe in all parts of your life. It’s sad but true that crime at ATM machines is on the rise but by taking a few precautions, you can ensure that you can safely conduct any transaction at an ATM.
There are two main things that you need to be aware of:
- Personal Safety – somebody trying to steal your money which might involve injury to yourself.
- Identity Theft – somebody getting information that can be used to get money later on.
Let’s take a look at some tips to help keep you safe.
- 1 ATM Location
- 2 Check The Machine
- 3 Have Somebody With You
- 4 Have Your Card Ready
- 5 Keep Your PIN Protected
- 6 Put the Money Away
- 7 Don’t Accept Help from Strangers
- 8 Don’t Withdraw After Alcohol
- 9 Drive-Thru ATMs
- 10 Cross Check Receipts to Bank Statements
- 11 Does Reverse PIN Protection Really Work at an ATM?
The ATM location is always the first thing to consider. A machine inside of a bank would clearly be much safer than one on the street. Criminals know that the bank is under 24-hour CCTV and are not going to be wanting to appear in any security footage.
If you have no choice but to use a machine that is out on the streets, choose one that is in an area with plenty of traffic and well-lit. This will make it much harder for anybody to try anything without the crime being seen.
Check The Machine
Never attempt to use an ATM machine that has been vandalised or that looks like it may have been tampered with in any way. Fraudsters can place false fronts on the card slot that once your card is inserted, it skims, or copies your details.
Along with this, they may also have placed a small camera inside the hole in the wall or above the keypad to capture your PIN as you type it in. You can get cameras today that are so tiny, you wouldn’t even notice them if you were looking right at it.
Have Somebody With You
If somebody is loitering near a machine waiting for somebody to steal from, they are less likely to try anything if there is more than one person. If you notice anybody looking dodgy near a machine, don’t be afraid to call the police as you might just be saving the next person that uses the ATM.
Have Your Card Ready
When withdrawing cash, it is always best to do so as quickly as possible. Have your card ready before getting to the machine as trying to fumble around in your bag for your card just gives opportunities to thieves as you become less aware of your surroundings.
Keep Your PIN Protected
Always have a look around you to make sure that nobody has their eyes on what you are typing in and cover the keypad as you type. This will shield your PIN from both people and any cameras that may be hidden in the wall above.
Nobody should ever be told your PIN number, not even the bank would ever ask you for it. Your PIN is only 4 numbers so easy to remember, never write it down and leave it in your wallet or handbag.
Put the Money Away
You need to get the money out of sight as quickly as possible. Don’t give anybody the chance to see exactly how much you have. Get a receipt and count it later.
Don’t Accept Help from Strangers
If your card gets stuck in the machine, stay there and use your phone to report it straight away. People may offer to help but there is nothing that they can do and they may just be trying to remove any hidden devices before help comes.
Also, never fall for the “I think you just dropped this” trick. If somebody tries stopping you whilst you’re using the ATM and claims that you just dropped some money, don’t fall for it and keep your eyes on what you are doing.
Criminals often work in teams so whilst one is distracting you, the other is stealing from you.
Don’t Withdraw After Alcohol
Alcohol impairs judgement and will make it less likely for you to notice anything out of the ordinary. Instead, try to withdraw money at the start of a night out.
Keep the engine running, your doors locked and your windows closed while using drive-thru ATMs. If something or someone makes you uncomfortable during a transaction, cancel it and drive away.
Cross Check Receipts to Bank Statements
Even when you think that everything has gone OK, you may still find that you have been caught out by a fraudster. Always get a receipt from the ATM and check it against your bank statements.
Does Reverse PIN Protection Really Work at an ATM?
It seems that on social media, especially Facebook, I am seeing every year that somebody on my friends list is sharing the image claiming that if somebody tries to rob you at an ATM, you put your PIN number in reverse to alert the police.
I think it is time to clear this up once and for all.
You can view the image in question below:
I am sure you have seen the above image circulating over social media for quite a few years now but whatever you do, don’t believe it. It is has supposedly been doing the rounds since 2006 but is nothing but myth. It is usually accompanied by something along the lines of:
I just found out that should you ever be forced to withdraw monies from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your Pin # in reverse. The machine will still give you the monies you requested, but unknown to the robber, etc, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.
The broadcast stated that this method of calling the police is very seldom used because people don’t know it exist, and it might mean the difference between life and death. Hopefully, none of you will have to use this, but I wanted to pass it along just in case you hadn’t heard of it. Please pass it along to everyone possible
In fact, not only is it nothing but a hoax but no ATM has ever had a feature that will allow you to alert the police of a robbery by inputting a PIN.
The idea itself doesn’t sound too bad but there is one serious flaw with the idea. If you have a PIN that is a palindrome (the same backwards as it is forwards), such as 1221, or 5995, it would always be impossible to tell if the user was making a simple transaction or was actually in danger.
The reverse PIN system was first imagined back in 1994 and patented in 1998 by a Joseph Zingher. His SafetyPIN System would alert police that a crime was in progress when a cardholder at an ATM keyed in the reverse of his PIN number. The system apparently had a work-around for palindrome PIN numbers but Zingher had very little success when it came to getting the banking community on his side.
Even if the system was put in place, realistically, law enforcement would likely arrive long after the victim and captor had departed the area.