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ATM Safety Tips Everyone Should Know

By: American Heritage03.09.22
Blog ATM Safety Tips

There’s no doubt about it – we’re living in an increasingly cash-free society these days. Between credit cards and mobile wallets, you may spend long stretches of time without using actual cash. But eventually there will come a time when paying with plastic just won’t cut it.

If you need to pay the babysitter, a vendor who doesn’t accept cards, or an unexpected toll on your next road trip, having cash in your wallet can definitely come in handy. And ATMs are a convenient way to get money when you’re out and about, without having to go into the branch during business hours. However, not all ATMs are created equal.

Whether you’re using a stand-alone ATM, one inside a grocery store, or a drive-through ATM, here are some ATM safety tips that can help keep you, your money, and your financial information safe from would-be criminals.


Be Aware of Your Surroundings, Especially at Night

  • Choose ATMs in well-lit, public locations. Not only are they more likely to have surveillance cameras nearby, but potential thieves are also more likely to target people using ATMs in isolated areas with poor visibility.
  • Visually inspect the area as you approach. If you see something suspicious, like people in parked cars or loitering near the machine for no apparent reason, trust your gut and go to another ATM.
  • Remain alert and avoid distractions. Staying safe is easier if you’re paying attention, so wait until you’re done using the machine to talk, text, or scroll on your phone.
  • If you’re at a drive-through ATM, keep all your doors locked and only roll down your driver’s-side window while you perform your transaction. Turn down your radio so you can listen out for anyone approaching.
  • If possible, take a friend with you for extra security, especially if you’re in an unfamiliar location.


Be Prepared

  • Have your debit card ready in your hand as you approach the ATM. You don’t want to take so long searching for your card that you give people with ill intentions enough time to approach you.  
  • If you’re depositing a check at the ATM, have all your paperwork filled out in advance. Don’t wait until you’re in front of the ATM to endorse your check.


Protect Your Financial Information

  • Keep your PIN safe. Never write your PIN on your card, and don’t share your PIN with anyone. In fact, it’s a good idea to update your PIN once a year, just to be on the (extra) safe side.
  • Make sure nobody behind you sees you enter your PIN. Use your body to shield the PIN pad from others’ view. If you think somebody is trying to look over your shoulder, hit cancel and walk away.
  • Get in the habit of inspecting the ATM for any signs of tampering (this also goes for any card readers in public places, such as gas pumps). For example, if the card reader seems loose or the keypad buttons are extra hard to push, that might indicate that hackers have installed a card skimmer on the machine. These devices steal the information from your card after you’ve inserted it.
  • If the ATM malfunctions while you’re using it, cancel the transaction and leave immediately. If the machine “eats” your card, call us as soon as possible to report a lost or stolen card. You can also deactivate your card immediately using Card Controls in our Online Teller or Mobile Teller app.


When You’re Done

  • Always take your receipt or transaction records when you leave. These documents contain your confidential account information, and you don’t want that falling into the wrong hands.
  • Don’t count your cash at the ATM. Quickly put it out of sight and count it when you’re in private.
  • Store your debit card in a safe place. It’s basically the same as cash, so you shouldn’t just toss it in your car’s console where anyone can see it.
  • Make sure nobody follows you after you complete your transaction. If you suspect you’re being followed, walk or drive somewhere other people are present.


Meet PAT®

American Heritage is proud to offer our members quality financial products and services, like debit cards with big benefits, including the ability to support our Kids-N-Hope Foundation with every purchase,  as well as access to more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. And, we’re also excited to have cutting-edge technology like PAT®, our Personal Automated Teller® machine, available at some of our branches. PAT® combines the functionality of an ATM with the personal service of a live teller for an even more convenient banking experience. 



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