Staying Safe at the ATM

In this day and age, one can never be too cautious about their personal safety, no matter where they are. Using an ATM may be a quick and easy activity, but because it involves your money and your personal information, it can also become a safety hazard in the wrong environment or time and place. Fortunately, credit unions and banks generally have security guards on the premises and most ATMs have mirrors so you can see what’s behind you, but not all ATMs are located in such secure locations. 

We’ve compiled a number of easy safety tips you can utilize the next time you make a transaction at an ATM. Here are a few to consider:

Keep everything private.

While this tip should be one everyone knows and understands, you can take extra steps to boost your privacy at an ATM. When entering your PIN into the machine, cover the keypad with your free hand to keep any bystanders from seeing it, and use your body as a shield from the screen to prevent wayward eyes from seeing any additional personal or financial information.

Bring a friend or family member with you.

If possible, make a point to visit an ATM when you know someone can come with you, especially if you are doing so after dark. Not only will you have safety in numbers, but you’ll also have an additional set of eyes to look out for any suspicious persons or foul play occurring nearby.

Don’t linger at the machine.

While you don’t want to walk away from an ATM while your personal information is still on the screen, or your receipt is still printing (always remember to collect your receipt to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands), you also don’t want to linger around in case there are suspicious people nearby. You also want to begin your transaction as soon as you approach the machine, so have your debit card out of your wallet and ready to use. When you’re finished, collect your cash and receipt and make sure your transaction is complete.

Keep an eye out for card skimmers.

Not everyone can easily identify a card skimmer, which is how thieves find success in scamming innocent people. When you approach an ATM, take a look at the card scanner and keypad; if the scanner feels a bit loose, and if the keypad is thicker than what you expect from an ATM, it may be compromised.