Monday, October 2, 2023

Beware Of Your Safety And Security While Using an ATM

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What is an ATM, aka Automated Teller Machine?

An automated teller machine (ATM) is an electronic bank source where customers can make basic transactions without the help of branch representatives or cashiers. Anyone with a credit or debit card can withdraw cash from most ATMs. The ATM is convenient because it allows quick self-service transactions such as deposits, cash withdrawals, utility bills, and transfers between accounts. However, a fee is usually charged for cash withdrawals at the bank where you hold the report, the ATM operator, or both. Some or all of these fees can be avoided by using an ATM operated directly by the bank where you opened the account. The ATM is known as automated banking machines or cash machines in many parts.

aka Automated Teller Machine

There are two main types of ATMs, the primary cash withdrawal and check your account balance and ATMs that allows the user to do cash withdrawals and transfers, bill payments and etc., along with the essential functions. An ATM contains a touch/ non-touchscreen, keypad, card slot with a card reader, bill slot (printer) and cash window(dispenser).

ATMs require users to complete transactions using a plastic card (bank debit or credit card). Before a transaction is made, the user is authenticated with a PIN (usually four digits). Many cards come with a chip that transfers data (updated bank details) from the card to the device. It works like a barcode that you can with a code reader.

Almost all ATMs have a maximum credit limit per day. It differs from bank to bank and debit card to credit card. You can always contact the bank in an emergency when you need to withdraw cash exceeding the limit. They also have a fee that will be deducted from your account whenever you start or pay your bills from an ATM. In most banks, it is free for its cards but deduct an amount when you use another bank’s card from their machines.

Users of ATM.

Who uses an ATM? It is clear that if you want to use an ATM, you should possess a credit or a debit card from any bank because, without a card, you won’t be able to make transactions via an ATM. These automated machines are easy to use and are convenient to most users to avoid bank waiting lines and paperwork and those who don’t like to use a bank book to keep track of your account or make transactions with.

Dilemmas of ATM users.

As much as ATMs are a convenient method of cash transactions, there are several problems that you will have to face when using an ATM varying from having less knowledge of how to use it properly to security issues. For example,

Losing or forgetting your PIN.

Losing your card.

Getting your car stuck in the machine.

Others peek at you when withdrawing money.

Other than these, some problems are created by thieves and fraudsters. Such as fixing card skimmers to obtain your card details so they can use it on online transactions, stealing your money as soon as you come outside after withdrawing cash and some more. So, to avoid these dilemmas, you need safety precautions.

Why do you need safety precautions when using ATM?

As with any banking platform, you are your best defence for private security. So, keep these precautions in mind the next time you visit an ATM and actively protect yourself from both types of ATM crime: identity theft and criminal encounters. 

Because the most common methods are ATM card theft, ATM card skimming, card jamming, card spoofing, shoulder surfing vandalism, physical assault, ATM confiscation, robbery and ATM jackpot.

Safety tips for ATM users.

There are plenty of safety tips that you can follow when you are using an ATM. Let us list a few most important and why you should follow them.

  • Be mindful of your location. – Safely visiting an ATM starts with being aware of the location. For instance, using an ATM that’s in a well-lit area that many people pass through may be more secure than using an ATM that’s in an isolated street or a place that is poorly lit. In addition, be mindful of possible unsighted areas, such as corners or nooks, that could cover a criminal from your view.
  • Use bank’s ATM as much as possible. – Standalone ATMs, such as those found in grocery stores or shopping malls, are more accessible for thieves to use than ATMs in banks. For example, crooks can link devices that steal your identification number (PIN) or account number. However, visiting a bank to use an ATM can mitigate some risks if the ATM is unapproachable to non-customers or supervised by the bank’s security cameras.
  • Be aware of your surrounding, especially at night. – Check who is around when using an ATM. For example, pay attention to people loitering around your car or appearing to be passing by. After sitting in a parked vehicle or exiting an ATM, pay attention to vehicles following you. Do not use this machine if you see suspicious activity, such as someone waiting for a few feet away, or if there is no lighting around you, and look for another device in a more public area.
  • Avoid making mistakes. – You can avoid making mistakes such as counting money right away without securely storing them away, not shielding the keypad with your body while entering your PIN, leaving the withdrawal money in the slot, forgetting or because you’re in a hurry or most importantly, sharing your PIN with others.
  • Keep track of your receipts. – Be sure to get a receipt for any ATM transactions you do and recheck and compare them with your bank statements later. This could help you observe inaccuracies or possible fraud if you used your debit or ATM card at a machine you don’t usually use. (It can also help you get fees charge for using an ATM that isn’t your bank’s refunded.) Never leave a receipt behind. This will stop any of your data from getting into the wrong hands. At various times, you can request your receipt to be sent by email.
  • Be careful at a drive-thru. – If you pull up to a drive-thru ATM, keep your engine running, lock all your doors, and close all windows except your own to access the machine. Don’t exit the vehicle for any reason, even if the ATM swallows your card and refuses to return it. You can also turn down your radio or remove your headphones to be more alert. When using an indoor ATM, be sure to lock your car and take your keys with you; do not ever leave your car in running condition.
  • Examine the machine before using it. – If you’re using an ATM that doesn’t belong to a bank, take a quick look around to see if it doesn’t seem appropriate. For example, if your keyboard is loose, wobbly, discoloured, jammed or missing keys, or the on-screen instructions don’t match what you’d usually see at an ATM, it could be a clear warning that scammers hacked it.
  • Keep your distance, and don’t linger. – When you use the ATM in a public place, make a way among yourself and others. Don’t permit the other users to stand near at the back of you, as they will be capable of seeing your PIN as you input it or notice every other of your personal details. And keep away from writing your PIN at the back of your card, as this can make you an easy target for robbery in case you lose it. 

When going to the ATM, do not forget to think and plan what you want to do so that you can get inside and out as quick as possible. For example, if you want to make a deposit, put together your cash in an envelope at home until your time at the ATM. Do not count money whilst standing close to the machine; wait till you can get to secure space. For example, when you use a drive-thru ATM, wait till you’ve gone back to your vehicle and locked the doors. If you ought to wait till you get to your home, don’t worry. The banks are liable to protect the customer from dangers related to ATMs and should recognize and understand the delay in reporting a mistake.

Remember always to trust your instinct or gut feeling if it tells you to be careful while using an ATM for your safety.

What to do when you lose your card?

If someone who knows your PIN is taken or a thief has stolen and uses your credit or debit card without your permission, you could be financially liable if the thief or the person who took it could access your account. Therefore, if your card is lost, unauthorizedly seized, confiscated or stolen, it is essential to notify your bank as soon as possible. This may help limit the liability for damages you have to bear.

Limitation of Liability for Loss or Theft of ATMs and Debit Cards.

The more you delay reporting the loss or theft of your credit or debit card, the greater your liability for unauthorized withdrawals or purchases. We suggest that you choose a credit card instead of debit when purchasing, as a credit card can provide more liability protection. You should also report a stolen credit or debit card to the police if it results from a criminal attack on the ATM. It is essential to provide as many details as possible about who took the card to help law enforcement identify the suspect.

In the USA, this is how the usual liability charges are made;

  • If you report before any unauthorized charges are made – no liability charges are made.
  • And also if you report within two business days after being stolen or lost – a charge of $50 is made.
  • If you report it taking more than two business days and within 60 calendar days after your statement is sent to you – a charge of $500 is made.
  • Suppose you report after more than 60 calendar days after your statement was sent to you. In that case, you might lose a part of the whole amount in your debit card or credit card (aka your bank account) or maybe more like any accounts related or connected to your cards or account.


These are purely the opinions of the author based on observations of financial platforms and a study of public reviews on how the users should handle ATMs safely and securely? Excerpts from various sources have been used to clarify the facts of this article. A glossary of all sources can be found at the end of the article. This article is for educational purposes only and is not financial advice.

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