7 Critical ATM Safety Tips

The ATM is very convenient, as it reduces the need to stand in endless lines at the bank to withdraw some cash. Open 24-7, the ATM makes it easy to access your money whenever the need strikes. Today, these machines are located virtually everywhere, from malls and grocery stores to parking lots on nearly every street. Most people simply accept using the ATM as a routine in their life.

However, there is a disadvantage to constantly turning to an ATM. Unfortunately, ATM robberies are relatively simple to pull off, and that makes them an attractive crime. Too many people use the ATM with hardly a thought, certainly never stopping to consider how dangerous it might be. To avoid being robbed as you are using the ATM, consider the following seven safety tips:

1. Avoid using the ATM after dark. Yes, having an ATM that allows withdrawals 24/7 can be very convenient, but it’s not very safe. Statistics show that most ATM robberies happen between 7pm and 4am. Criminals know that the reason you’re pulling up to the ATM is to get cash. Those with cash in hand in the middle of the night tend to be targets for theft. Avoid withdrawing cash late at night for any reason. If you must use the ATM at night, choose a location inside a grocery store or any other store that is still open and well-lit.

2. Avoid going alone. Try to time your ATM trips so that you’re already out and about with someone else. Criminals tend to target those who use the ATM alone, because they will be less able to fight back.

3. Be aware of your surroundings. Using the ATM is one of the most important times to be aware of what’s going on around you. Watch for people loitering around the ATM or sitting in their car watching people using the machine. Never let a stranger crowd you or try to view your transaction. If you see suspicious behavior, cancel your transaction, walk away, and use a different ATM. Avoid ATMs located near hedges or other hiding places.

4. Be ready before you reach the machine. It’s always a bad idea to fumble in your purse or wallet, looking for your debit card, while you’re standing next to the ATM. Have the card out and ready to use long before you reach the machine. Don’t forget to fill out any paperwork you need, such as deposit slips, before it’s your turn to use the ATM.

5. Protect your PIN. These days, most people know not to give their PIN numbers out to anyone, but far to many people use an easy to remember number like their birth date or the last 4 digits of their social security number. If your wallet is stolen, you can bet that these are the first numbers the thief will try. Never carry your PIN number with your card, and always use your body or hand to shield your PIN if there are people in line behind you at the ATM.

6. Be ready to protect yourself. Most victims of an ATM robbery never see it coming and have no way to defend themselves. By carrying a self defense product, such as a stun gun or canister of pepper spray, you are much less likely to become the victim of an attack, whether it’s an ATM robbery or a random street assault.

7. Leave quickly. Never count your cash as you’re still standing at the ATM. This is just asking for trouble! Instead, walk back to your car quickly, get in and lock the doors, and drive away. You can count your cash once you’re safely away form the ATM.

By following these tips, you can safeguard your personal safety and your hard-earned cash, reducing the risks of an ATM robbery.

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