During the holidays as throughout the year, getting cash from an ATM is normal for many people. ATM’s are available 24 hours a day and they’re located in bank branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, malls, airports, sports venues and on street corners.
Unfortunately, the convenience aspect can compromise personal safety especially if you are distracted on not paying attention. Planning for an ATM withdrawal and applying common sense can help you avoid trouble.
* Be aware of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction like people sitting in a nearby parked car or someone offering to help you.
* Safeguard your PIN. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t write it down. Don’t use your birthdate, last four digits of your phone number or other obvious numbers.
* If there are other people at the ATM to make a withdrawal, shield the keypad when entering your PIN number.
* Keep your car doors locked and windows raised, except for your driver’s window, when using a drive-up ATM.
* Minimize the time spent at the ATM by being prepared with your card ready, what you plan to do and do not count your money until you are in a safe place away from the ATM.
* Take your receipt with you and destroy it if you decide to discard it.
* Be aware that some thieves use skimming devices to steal account and PIN numbers. If something doesn’t look “just right”, consider finding another machine to use.
* Especially at night, pay attention to locations with adequate lighting and being visible from the street. Don’t compromise your safety just because it is convenient.
* After you have your money, pay attention to see if someone might be following you. If you are concerned, go to a nearby police or fire station or well-trafficked business and call the police.
* If you feel uneasy during a transaction, cancel it, remove your card and LEAVE.
There may be a time in the not too distant future when we don’t have a need for cash anymore. Until that time, paying attention to simple safety precautions can help protect us during the holidays and throughout the year.