Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs, present a great convenience but can also compromise one’s safety. Any predator searching for easy prey, only has to find an ATM in a dimly-lit and low-trafficked area, and wait for the opportunity. This is what makes the cash machines inside banks your safest bet, but it certainly doesn’t mean that you should avoid ones at sports venues, malls, and similar locations. By planning ahead and using some common sense, you won’t have to worry about using practically any ATM.
Take a look at the following tips and find out how to safely collect the money from an ATM:
Always pay close attention to the machine you want to use and its surroundings. Don’t choose an ATM that’s situated on the corner of a building, as these corners create blind spots. You should use machines that are located in the center of the buildings, in well-lit locations that are free of decorative partitions or shrubbery.
Maintain your situational awareness for the duration of the whole transaction. If someone offers to help you with the transaction, politely refuse their offer – there’s a good chance that such a person is actually an ATM thief. Be aware of people sitting in cars that are parked in the vicinity. When you’re leaving the machine, you need to make sure that you’re not being followed. If you notice that you, are being followed, immediately drive to the nearest police station or a well-lit area with lots of people.
Try not to use ATMs that look unusual or those that offer options you have never heard about before. Those kinds of machines probably have something to do with thieves and will take down all of the money from your account.
Don’t allow people to try looking over your shoulder while you’re typing in the PIN. Never write the PIN anywhere, and especially not on the back of your card – you will have to memorize it. If the machine eats your card, don’t re-enter the PIN, but contact a bank official.
Try not to wear things like expensive jewelry while using an ATM. It will only make you a better target to assailants, who will think that you’ll withdraw a lot of cash and will certainly try to rob you of it.
Never count the money while in front of the machine – do it when you have reached a secure place.
If you decide to use a drive-up ATM, make sure to keep the doors locked and the engine running. Also, leave enough space in front and behind your car for maneuvering as there will probably be other vehicles in line.
Always maintain a stock of deposit envelopes in your vehicle or at home. Before arriving at the machine, make sure to prepare all the needed paperwork. This minimizes the amount of time you’ll spend in front of the ATM, and thus lowers the risk of robbery. Remember to closely monitor your balances and bank statements, reporting possible problems to your bank as soon as you can.
Always retain the transaction receipt you got, and never throw it away close to an ATM.
If your card ends up stuck in the machine, and you’re with a friend, stay at the ATM and have your buddy go and report it.
Your personal safety should be your first priority – if you get the feeling of being in danger, react immediately. Following your instincts is usually the best idea. As you can see, using an ATM takes some safety precautions if you don’t want to end up in trouble. With these tips, that won’t happen – good luck!
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