Taking care at an ATM machine to avoid becoming the victim of a crime!

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Bank ATM cards and machines with the potential they present for thieves to hijack personal information, money and compromise your physical well-being concerns both.

What can we do to avoid becoming a victim and, if it happens, what steps should be taken both before and after the incident occurs to minimize the damage as much as possible?

The following words of advice have been provided by Larry Trapani from the insurance management firm Brooks-Waterburn Corp. and while some of the points may seem common sensical, reinforcement of good ideas is always a positive thing!

I don’t know about you but I never feel entirely comfortable using an ATM, especially if there are other people hanging around close by.

It’s not just my imagination either. I just saw a report saying theft of cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) in the UK tripled between 2012 and 2013. There’s no reason to believe the statistics are any different here.

Crooks use all kinds of tricks from looking over your shoulder to using hidden cameras to get users’ numbers. They put devices inside the slots to trap your card or your cash. Or they simply wait till you’ve collected your money and snatch it and maybe even your card from you.

  • But there’s actually quite a lot you can do to cut the risk of becoming an ATM victim. For instance:
  • Look for any obvious signs that the ATM has been tampered with, including tiny cameras and keyboard overlays.
  • When you key in your PIN, hide the keypad with your other hand.
  • Try to be accompanied when you use an ATM.Your “partner” can also stand guard and keep watch if you have to get help.
  • Preferably, use ATMs during daylight hours and inside a building.
  • Avoid using one on a corner of a building — it’s too easy for thieves to lurk out of sight.
  • If anyone seems to be standing too close as you go to use an ATM, stand back and invite them to go first.
  • Don’t allow anyone to distract you during a transaction. Ignore them.
  • Similarly, don’t allow someone to “help” you if your card gets stuck. They might have jammed the machine and will ask you to enter your PIN, then remove the card after you’ve gone.
  • If the money doesn’t come out, contact your bank immediately. Thieves sometimes insert a wire into the cash dispenser to block it and then, again, collect the money after you leave.
  • Put your money away immediately. If you want to count it, do so once you’re away from the ATM in a safe place.

Most important of all is the action you take if you fall victim to an ATM crime.

There’s a phone number on the back of every card. Make a note of it now. Then if you do lose your card or if it, or the cash, gets trapped in a machine, or if you think your PIN has been compromised, call that number immediately. You card will be cancelled and can no longer be used.

By the way, if you’re driving, keep your doors locked at the drive-thru, or park as close to the ATM as possible. But don’t leave your car engine running while you get out and get your cash.

Finally, even though you’re not at home, your homeowners or renters insurance may cover you if you’re robbed at an ATM.

If you have any thoughts or questions on this topic Larry can be reached at (888) 997-9801 or at ltrapani@brookswaterburn.com.

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