Be SMART at the ATM: Consumer Tips for Safe Self-Service Transactions

Be SMART at the ATM: Consumer Tips for Safe Self-Service Transactions

While there is lots of talk around bitcoin and other alternative payment methods, cash is still the undisputed champion in this ever-evolving payments ecosystem. In fact, cash accounts for 85% of global consumer transactions.

That means to access your cash, you’ll likely be visiting an ATM very, very soon.

Make sure every visit is a safe one: Be SMART.

Study the surroundings

Make it quick

Always be observant

Remember your information

Take everything with you

Study the Surroundings.

Whether using a drive-up or walk-up ATM, it is important to always check your surroundings. If using a drive-up ATM, use your vehicle’s mirrors to check your blind spots. Also, double check that your doors are locked.

When using a walk-up ATM, if you notice anything or anyone suspicious, visit the ATM later or use another ATM location.

If visiting an ATM at night, check to make sure it is in a well-lit area. Also, make sure there is are no potential blind spots or overgrown shrubs, bushes or trees around the ATM.

It’s best to choose an ATM with signs indicating the area is under constant surveillance. It’s a simple, but effective deterrent.

Make it Quick.

Have your card, cash and other materials in your hand while you approach the ATM. This limits the amount of time spent rummaging through your purse or wallet.

And if making large cash deposits at the ATM, make sure any paperclips or money bands are removed prior to the transaction.

Always Be Observant.

Before inserting your card, check for any signs of tampering, such as scratches, paint transfer, sticky residue from tape, loose or crooked parts on the ATM or any extra attachments hanging awkwardly off of the machine. These are signs of skimming, a popular method criminals use to steal your card’s information.

Also look to see if there’s anything overlaid on or around the PIN Pad – those are additional signs of tampering.

If everything looks in order, insert your card and enter your PIN. When entering the PIN, always use your free hand to block the numbers on the PIN Pad. This ensures no one can shoulder surf behind you. Shoulder surfing is when a criminal steals your PIN number by watching you use the ATM.

Remember Your Information.

Your PIN could be any one of 10,000 possible four-digit combinations. But it only takes one simple mistake to make your personal information available to criminals.

That’s why it is imperative you never share your PIN or give it out over the telephone. Your PIN should be committed to memory and should be a random number.

So while I hope you don’t use 1234 as your PIN, I also hope you are aware that writing it down and keeping it with your card is the easiest way for someone to access your account.

If you run into any issues, DO NOT accept help from strangers.

Take Everything With You.

It is absolutely imperative you leave the ATM with all your belongings.

Don’t leave behind or dispose of any receipts at the ATM. Receipts reveal personal account information. The general rule of thumb is anything you use or receive during a transaction can more than likely be used by someone else to gain information about you and your account, so take it all with you.

Make Every Visit A Safe One.

The average consumer visits an ATM more than seven times per month — which makes consumer safety at the ATM crucial. So as you transact at the ATM, remember to be SMART.

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