Travel Advice - ATM safety and security
The convenience of ATMs as a cash source during
travel comes with several liabilities. In the article that follows, we
try to point out issues that you should consider when using ATMs
Always keep your ATM card in a safe place (See
- Remove it from your money belt only when you
intend to use it immediately.
- Keep the card’s PIN (personal Identification
Number) safe by memorizing it.
- Do not list the PIN in any of your travel
It is claimed that the notorious bank robber Willie
Sutton said that he robbed banks because “”…that’s where the money is….”
Well modern day thieves have concluded the same thing about ATMs except
the target is not the ATM, it’s you.
Before using the ATM
- If possible, take another person with you when
you go to the ATM.
- Observe the ATM site before you use it.
- If you feel uncomfortable at an ATM, listen to
yourself and find another ATM in a more secure location.
- Be especially cautious using ATMs at night.
- Make sure no one is lingering near the ATM.
- If the machine is poorly lit or in an out of
the way location, find another in a safer location.
- Have your card out and ready to use when you
approach the ATM.
- Do not look for your card in your purse or your
wallet while standing at the ATM.
- If you are using a drive-thru ATM, make sure that
you car’s doors are locked and that all of the vehicle’s windows, other
than the one adjacent to the ATM, are fully closed during the time you
are in the drive-thru.
- If the ATM is not a drive through but you drive
to the bank, make sure that you lock your car when you leave to perform
- You do not want someone driving off in
your car or a stranger inside your car when you return from the ATM.
While using the ATM
- If the ATM is in a locked enclosure that can be
opened only by swiping a valid ATM card through a reader on the door
lock, make sure that you do not admit anyone else (who may indicate that
their card will not open the door – hint: if their card will not operate
the door, it will not operate the ATM either and you should not let them
enter with you).
- If they persist, slide you card down the door
lock with the magnetic stripe to the wrong side ensuring that the
door will not open for you either.
- Tell them your card is not working and
just walk away – quickly).
- If anything makes you uncomfortable during the
transaction, hit the cancel button, and find an ATM in another location.
- Be sure that you have cancelled the transaction
and received your card back before leaving.
- Make sure that your use you body to shield
anyone’s view of the screen or the keys that you select on the keyboard
to enter your pin.
- Always request a receipt, if the system gives you
After using the ATM
If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things
Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.
- Immediately pocket the cash, card and receipt.
- Do not examine the receipt or count the cash
right then as this is the best way to advertise that you have made a
withdrawal (remember, you know you are going to the ATM to withdraw
money but no one else does – you might be checking a balance).
- So be nefarious. Hide your movements, pocket
the cash smoothly, and move on down the road. At a later, safer,
more private time make sure that you received the correct amount of
your withdrawal and that the receipt confirms your transaction.
- Be sure to return your ATM card to your money
belt as soon as possible.
- If there is any issue with the transaction, call
the bank issuing the card, as soon as possible.