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ATM Security: Some Helpful Dos and Don’ts

Atm fraud prevention scam card skimmer

Simple actions help ensure ATMs are both convenient and safe.

Both average citizens and criminal minds adore the convenience of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). With the growing ubiquity of ATMs around the world, the emergence of cunning card scams that defraud ATM users are becoming all too familiar. Meanwhile, at the ATM most citizens remain unaware of the risks of tossing their card statements in the garbage on the street corner and appear aloof when entering their PIN number in full view of strangers passing by.

Though ATMs have been around for a while now, we all can benefit from a friendly reminder of the Dos and Don’ts when using ATMs and how best to keep our ATM cards safe.

Security guidelines for your ATM card

Dos:

  • Sign your name on the strip on the back of your card as soon as you receive it.
  • First use of the card must be at an ATM, otherwise it will not work at Point of Sale (POS) at a store.
  • Memorize your personal identification number (PIN) and never share it with anyone.
  • Store your card in a secure place where you will know immediately if it goes missing.
  • Beware of “shoulder surfing”: shield your PIN from onlookers by using your body and hands. Once you complete your transaction, be sure that you have your card and your receipt, then leave immediately.
  • Make a new PIN as soon as you receive your card. Change your PIN every three months.
  • Store your bank card with care so that you do not damage the magnetic stripe.
  • Check your ATM machine for signs of any external fittings or loose wiring; these may indicate you are using a scam ATM machine. Report suspicious ATM machines to the bank and use another ATM.
  • Check your monthly bank statement for unusual or unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious or unfamiliar transactions to your bank immediately.
  • Ensure your card is swiped in your presence at a POS.
  • Immediately inform your financial institution if your card is lost or stolen.
payza scam prevention fraud atm cards

Three simple rules that help prevent ATM card scams.

Don’ts:

  • Never lend your card to anyone.
  • Do not write your PIN number on your card.
  • When disposing of old receipts and statements, don’t use public waste receptacles and be sure to destroy the statements so they are useless to identity thieves.
  • Never share your PIN with anyone, including a family member or bank personnel, or in response to online or email requests.
  • Never carry a copy of your PIN in your wallet or purse.
  • Never let anyone see you input your PIN.
  • Never use a PIN that could be guessed easily, such as your birthday or telephone number.
  • Never leave your card unattended; for example, in your car, hotel room or on your desk at work.
Payza scam atm security

These are definite ATM-card follies best to avoid.

More Resources

A victim of an ATM scam in India recounts her story (Basunivesh.com).

This article has more tips on how to protect yourself at the ATM (Krebs on Security).