ATM Safety

The presence of ATMs poses three potential safety and security problems.  Customers using ATMs need to take precautions against a possible robbery or having their information compromised.  The Taylor Police Department suggests the following recommendations when using an ATM:

Selecting an ATM

  • Do not pick an ATM at the corner of a building.  Corners create a blind area in proximity to the customer’s transaction.
  • Identify an ARM with maximum natural surveillance and visibility from the surrounding area.  This will create a perceived notion of detection by a criminal and increases the potential for witnesses.
  • Select an ATM at a location void of barriers blocking the line of sight of the ATM.  This includes shrubbery, landscaping, signs, and decorative partitions or dividers.  Barriers provide hiding areas for would-be assailants.
  • Select an ATM that is in a well-lighted location.
  • Whenever possible, select an ATM that is monitored or patrolled by a security officer.
  • Pick an ATM with a camera and/ or surveillance.

Approaching the ATM

  • At a drive-up ATM, keep all windows closed, except the one you are using, and all vehicle doors locked.  Keep the vehicle running and be watchful of the vehicle’s front, rear and sides.  If someone approaches your vehicle on foot, cancel the transaction and leave.
  • If you drive to the ATM and then exit your vehicle to use the ATM, lock all the vehicle doors after you exit.   Then, keep your keys handy so you can re-enter your vehicle quickly after completing your transaction.
  • Never approach an ATM if the lights at the site are not working.
  • Particularly after dark, take a companion along to the ATM, if at all possible, and park close to the ATM in a well lighted area.

Using the ATM

  • When waiting in line to use the ATM, wait well behind the person(s) ahead of you, and do not approach the ATM until they complete their transaction.
  • When you are using the ATM and someone is closer to you than you would like them to be, ask them politely to step back a bit.  If they do not do so, cancel your transaction and wait in your locked vehicle or other safe location until that person leaves—or possibly go another ATM.
  • When approaching the ATM, have your card ready, know your code and if anything such as a depot slip needs to be filled out, have it completed.  If making a deposit and you do not have a deposit envelope, obtain one from the storage section of the ATM and fill it out in your locked vehicle before you return to the ATM.
  • Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN).  Memorize your PIN. Do NOT write your PIN on your ATM card or carry your PIN in your wallet or purse.
  • Select a PIN that is different from other numbers noted in your wallet or purse, such as your address, birth date, telephone or social security number.
  • When using the ATM, stand directly in front of the keyboard, blocking the view of others.  Do not enter the PIN if anyone else can see the screen. As remote as it may seem, criminals can use high-powered equipment to visually capture cardholder’s PIN’s as they are punched into keypads.  By picking up discarded ATM transaction receipts, criminals can match up PIN’s and account numbers an have all the information they need to manufacture false ATM cards and gain access to consumer’s money.  This is referred to as “shoulder surfing.”
  • Never accept offers of assistance with the ATM from strangers.
  • When your ATM transaction is completed, immediately take your property—card, receipt, money, etc., put them in your pocket, wallet or purse and leave immediately
  • Never stand and count your money. If your transaction is inaccurate, you cannot discuss it with the machine.
  • ATM robberies often occur after the patron has completed the transaction.  Always have your head up and be aware of your surrounding when you leave an ATM.  If you feel or sense someone is following you, walk or drive to the nearest open business or where there are a lot of people and call the police.
  • NEVER tell your PIN to anyone!
  • NEVER lend your ATM card to anyone; treat it like cash or a credit card.
  • If you lose your ATM card or have reason to believe it has been compromised, call the issuing institution immediately.

Source:  The American Crime Prevention Institute