ATMs or 'cash machines' as they are more commonly known are extremely handy, and are frequently used to withdraw a quick bit of cash for a purchase, or to save a bank visit. They are available twenty four hours a day, and so allow us to access our cash at any time that suits us. However, there is a downside to these machines, and that is the extra risk they pose to both us and our money.
Banks are relatively safe places. When we visit a bank we are surrounded by staff, there are high security alarm systems in place, security cameras and other features, which mean that withdrawing our money is safe.
On the other hand, cash machines are often situated on the street, close to where people are passing by, and very exposed. Quite often you can be trying to access your money with people almost literally brushing past you on the street. In order to try to protect both yourself and your money, there are a few things that you can do to help ensure that you do not become a target.
The first thing to consider is the location of the machine, and the time of day. A cash machine in a fairly poorly lit area of town, possibly quite quiet and at night is not a good choice, since you are very exposed and liable to draw attention to yourself. Think about where the machine is, and how easily people will be able to see the screen, and what you're typing in. remember, much of the crime associated with ATMs does not take place at the machine itself. Instead what criminals do is watch you enter your PIN, and then wait for you to leave the machine. You'll then be followed until you go somewhere fairly quiet and out of the way, at which point your wallet will be taken from you. They already know your PIN, so all they have to do is to visit the nearest machine and use your card to withdraw the maximum possible.
For this reason, when you approach a machine, be aware of who's around you, and who seems to be hanging around without any particular reason. Is there a parked car next to the machine with someone in? A common trick is to park up near a machine and look as though you're waiting for someone whilst watching people access the machine. A pair of small binoculars quickly whipped out is all that is needed to get the PIN, and the rest is up to them.
If you are in any doubt, leave the machine completely. It's also important if you have decided to use the machine to check it carefully before entering your card. Some gangs stick an extra card reader on top of the real one, and this scans your card number as you enter it. A small camera, or a remote viewer watches the PIN being entered, and this is all they need to access all of your bank funds. Without you knowing they will manufacture a false card using the numbers scanned on yours, and then use the PIN to access your account and withdraw or transfer as much as they like.
The golden rule is this, if you are in any doubt, just hit the cancel button and walk away. There are plenty of other machines, and it simply isn't worth the risk.