For consumers, ATMs represent a point-of-contact with a bank, but it can also mean a point-of-crime with a slimeball. With more than 120,000 ATMs in the U.S. there is a lot of potential for problems which can easily be avoided by using common sense. One of the largest ATM networks in the U.S. recently issued these safety tips for consumers:
FOR WALK-UP ATMS:
1. Always observe your surroundings before conducting an ATM transaction. Observe the entire area from the safety of your car before getting out. If anyone or anything appears to be suspicious, leave the area at once.
2. If an ATM is obstructed from view or poorly lit, go to another ATM. It is also a good idea to take along a companion when using an ATM, especially at night.
3. Minimize time spent at the ATM by having your card out and ready to use. Do not let anyone see how much money you withdrew, and never count your money while at the ATM.
4. Never allow a stranger to assist you in conducting an ATM transaction, even if you have trouble or if your card is stuck.
5. Stand between the ATM and anyone waiting to use the terminal so that others cannot see your secret code or transaction amount.
6. Look for possible fraudulent devices attached to the ATM. If the ATM looks different or appears to have any attachments over the card slot or PIN pad, do not use the ATM.
7. If you see anyone or anything suspicious while conducting a transaction, cancel your transaction and leave immediately.
8. If anyone follows you after you have made your ATM transaction, go immediately to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police.
FOR DRIVE-UP ATMS
1. Keep the doors locked, windows up and engine running at all times when waiting in line at a drive-up ATM.
2. Leave enough room between cars to allow for a quick exit should it become necessary.
3. Before lowering the window to use an ATM, observe the entire surrounding area. If anyone or anything appears to be suspicious, drive away at once.
4. Minimize time spent at the ATM by having your card out and ready to use. Once your transaction is complete, take your money, card and receipt and immediately drive away from the terminal.
5. While conducting a transaction, if anyone or anything appears suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. For other ATM tips visit the American Bankers Association at www.aba.com