When you need money quickly and don’t have time to wait in line at the bank, ATMs can be a very convenient alternative. However, because they are not in a bank, they are not staffed with tellers and they are often are located outdoors, you may be putting yourself at risk when you are using them. ATMs are even more dangerous at night or when you are alone. You may be vulnerable to being robbed or attacked during these situations. You should always try to avoid using ATMs alone, but sometimes this is unavoidable. Here are five safety tips to remember when using the ATM:
- Whenever possible, use an indoor ATM. Many banks offer a vestibule style ATM facility that is locked and requires an ATM card to enter. These facilities are usually well lit and safer than the outdoor and unprotected variety. Never use an ATM that has any surrounding shrubbery, partitions or other places where someone could easily hide. Always be aware of your surroundings. Do not become distracted by digging in your purse or bag for your ATM card or deposit slip.
- Never use an ATM if there is a stranger lurking nearby or standing behind you. If someone appears to be waiting, let them go ahead of you. If they are there to get their own money, then they will most likely do so and leave. If they do not leave, then you should. Never let a stranger assist you with your transaction. If something is not working properly, take your card and leave. If the ATM should not return your card for some reason, write down the contact number. Do not re-enter your PIN number for any reason.
- Never count your money while standing at the ATM. Immediately put all cash into your purse or wallet and count it when you are sure that you are alone and nobody is watching you. If you are using a drive-up type of ATM, be sure to have all transaction materials prepared ahead of time, keep your doors locked and keep your engine running. If someone follows you when you leave an ATM location, drive to a police station or fire station, or another well-lit public location. Do not drive home.
- Have your PIN number memorized, never write it on your ATM card or carry it anywhere on your person—including any papers in your purse or wallet.
- If at any time you are confronted by someone who wants to take your money, give it to them and get away. No amount of money is worth entering into a potentially physical confrontation with an attacker. Do your best to remember the details of the incident, such as what the robber looked like, what they were wearing and exactly what they said to you. Immediately contact the police department to report the incident.
Modern technology has provided us with many conveniences, including ATMs. However, no amount of convenience is worth compromising your personal safety. If you can avoid using an ATM alone at night, then do so. Always be extremely vigilant about your surroundings and put your personal safety first!