ATM Safety and Security


Image of a Woman at an ATM

While Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) provide outstanding convenience, using one requires a sharp focus on personal safety and security.

Persons in need of cash are attracted to ATMS at all hours of the day and night and criminals needing small sums of quick cash know this. A robber looking for easy prey only has to stake out an ATM in a low-traffic, dimly lit area and bide his time. Don’t be a victim! One of the best ways to stack the odds in your favor is to learn and practice some self defense:

Pick the right ATM to use
Location matters. Cash machines at banks are considered the safest bet, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay clear of others. Safe ATMs are clearly visible from the street and to foot traffic. Don’t select an ATM at the corner of a building as corners create blind spots. Avoid an ATM that has tall bushes, shrubbery or partitions nearby. If using an ATM at night, look for a bright, well-lit one. When using an enclosed ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting strangers inside with you. When you arrive at an ATM, look around. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop just walk away. Be alert at all times.

Timing is everything

If possible, avoid using an ATM after dark, particularly if walking.
Have your access card and any other documents out and ready to use when you approach an ATM. If you are fumbling with a wallet or purse, you become easy prey for a thief.
Likewise, put your cash, card and receipt away immediately. Never leave your receipt behind. Count the money later in private. The idea is to give a would-be robber less time to target you.
Minimize your time at the machine.
If driving
Lock all doors and roll up the passenger side windows. Drive as close as you can to the window and keep the car running. If waiting in a drive-up line, leave enough room to maneuver between your car and the one ahead of you. Don’t roll down your own window until ready to transact business. Roll it back up as soon as you are finished. If you think you are being followed after your transaction, go to an area with a lot of people and call the police.

Contact your bank IF

You notice a recording device or something else suspicious at an ATM.
Your ATM card is lost or stolen
You have suggestions on how to improve the security of their ATM that you use.

And lastly, if you ARE involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.