ATM Safety Tips You Need to Know

ATM safety is something we often take for granted. We drive up to use the ATM to either withdraw cash or make a deposit and assume that there is no risk or chance of foul play.

ATMs are such a part of our everyday lives that it can be easy to feel a false sense of security, but it’s important to be mindful of potential risks. Keep the following ATM safety tips in mind the next time you use one.

Keep a level head
Most of the tips here cover how to prevent a theft, but we want to start with a note about how to behave in the event of a robbery because it’s so important. Remember: If you come face-to-face with a robber, don’t argue with them.

According to Cobalt Credit Union Vice President of Virtual Banking and Contact Center Peggy Woltman, fighting a robber isn’t worth the risk. “Don’t argue with a robber,” Woltman advises. It might be tempting to fight back against a thief, but it just isn’t worth the risk.

Proactive ATM safety tips
Here’s what to do to help protect yourself against a robbery or scam:

  • Use ATMs in businesses: Whether it be in a credit union branch or in a store, using an ATM that’s in a busy building is generally safer than using an outdoor ATM after dark.
  • Handle your business at the ATM: Walk up with your ATM card in hand and put away all cash before leaving. Doing otherwise could make you a target for thieves.
  • Protect your PIN: While it might seem obvious, this is incredibly important. Use your body to shield your actions as you enter your PIN. If you need to write it down to remember it, disguise it amongst other numbers.
  • Be aware of skimmers: “Skimming” involves placing hardware on top of the card slot and/or keypad to capture card and PIN info (sometimes a small camera is used to record keypad entries). If something doesn’t seem right about the ATM, leave right away and contact the operator of the machine.
  • ATM location matters … to a point: Choosing to use an ATM in a well lit, open area or inside a business is always a good idea.However, prime location doesn’t necessarily equate to total safety. Remember that ATMs can be subject to fraud or skimmers in any location.

It’s vital to keep your eyes open to potential ATM safety issues regardless of the location. Just because it might feel safe, doesn’t mean it is.

Benefits beyond convenience
When used wisely, there are some great benefits to be had by making ATMs part of your regular banking practices.

Outside the obvious time savings, Cobalt Credit Union also offers the following benefits to those using an ATM:

  • Members get two foreign ATM transactions per month
  • Certain checking account types can get up to $10 in surcharge fees refunded per month by meeting account requirements
  • Regular safety evaluation of all transactions

Do you use ATMs to bank? If so, what are some of your favorite ATM safety tips?

Afraid you might be the victim of identity theft? Download our checklist and learn what you should do right away.