Everyone should practice caution at ATMs

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2001

APD Assistant Chief of Police
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are very commonplace today, offering convenience to user and opportunities to criminals. Although not a usual part of Neighborhood Watch activities, you or your neighbors no doubt use these machines.
Here are a few precautions you need to take:
Prepare your ATM transactions at your home or office to minimize your time at the ATM.
Example: Fill out deposit slips and have the bank's deposit envelopes available at your home or office.
Mark each transaction in your account record, but not while at the ATM.
Always save your receipts. Don't leave them at the ATM because they may contain important account information.
Don't lend your ATM card to anyone.
Remember, do not leave your card at the ATM – especially in the machine.
Protect the secrecy of your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Don't tell anyone your PIN. Don't write your PIN where it can be discovered. Don't keep a note of your PIN in your wallet or purse. Especially, don't write your PIN on your ATM card.
Prevent others from seeing you enter your PIN by using your body or other hand to shield their view.
If you lose your ATM card or it's stolen, promptly notify your bank and the police or sheriff's department. Keep the phone number of your ATM and credit card companies handy, at your home or your office, so you can identify them immediately if your card is lost or stolen.
At the ATM, be especially mindful of your surroundings. Look out for suspicious activity near the ATM facility.
At night, be sure the ATM site, the parking area and walkways are well lighted. It may be wise to bring someone with you when you make a transaction. If you observe anything unusual, go to another ATM facility.
Don't accept assistance from anyone you don't know when using an ATM.
If you notice anything suspicious or any other problem arises after you have begun an ATM transaction, cancel the transaction, pocket your card, and leave.
Wait until you are in secure surroundings to count your cash.
If you are held up after you get your cash, throw the cash on the ground and run, screaming for help.
At a drive-up ATM, make sure all car doors are locked and all windows are rolled up, except the driver's window. Be mindful of #1 above and be prepared. Keep the engine running and remain alert to your surroundings.
If you are held up after you get your cash at a drive-up, and someone blocks your path, do whatever it takes to get out of the area.
The ATM should be safe and convenient for you. Tell your bank of any problem with an ATM facility. Report any suspicious activity to the bank and to the police.
Examples: A light is not working which bank personnel would not notice during the daylight hours of operation.
There is damage to the machine from the outside. There is vandalism such as graffiti. Suspicious individuals are loitering near the facility.
ATMs are here to stay. Practice these precautions at ATM facilities where you bank, and also at point-of-purchase sites where you may purchase gasoline or your groceries.

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