Let Common Sense Be Your Guide

Your ATM card provides you with instant access to your deposit account, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can use it to withdraw money or make deposits at automated teller machines (ATMs) and to make purchases at a growing number of retail locations.

Given the widespread availability of ATM access and the convenience it affords, using an ATM card has become an important part of everyday life for many consumers. By following some common sense guidelines, you can help ensure that your transactions will be safe, as well as convenient.

The fact is, incidence of crime at ATMs has been low. Still, as with almost everything else you do at a public location, the opportunity for crime does exist. So, the next time you use your ATM card, let common sense be your guide. Take these simple steps to help safeguard your personal safety and privacy.

Personal Safety at the ATM

  1. Always pay close attention to the ATM and your surroundings. Don't select an ATM at the corner of a building -- corners create a blind spot. Use an ATM located near the center of a building. Do your automated banking in a public, well-lighted location that is free of shrubbery and decorative partitions or dividers.
  2. Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car nearby. When leaving an ATM make sure you are not being followed. If you are, drive immediately to a police or fire station, or to a crowded, well-lighted location or business.
  3. Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable.
  4. Do not allow people to look over your shoulder as you enter your PIN. Memorize your PIN; never write it on the back of your card. Do not re-enter your PIN if the ATM eats your card -- contact a bank official.
  5. Do not wear expensive jewelry or take other valuables to the ATM. This is an added incentive to the assailant.
  6. Never count cash at the machine or in public. Wait until you are in your car or another secure place.
  7. When using a drive-up ATM, keep your engine running, your doors locked and leave enough room to maneuver between your car and the one ahead of you in the drive-up line.
  8. Maintain a supply of deposit envelopes at home or in your car. Prepare all transaction paperwork prior to your arrival at the ATM. This will minimize the amount of time spent at the machine.
  9. Closely monitor your bank statements, as well as your balances, and immediately report any problems to your bank.
  10. If you are involved in a confrontation with an assailant who demands your money, COMPLY.
  11. If you know of, or experience a crime at an ATM, report it immediately to the ATM owner and to the local police.

Source: The Electronic Funds Transfer Association, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Account Protection

  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret.
    Your ATM card will work only with a PIN. Memorize your PIN. Never write your PIN on your card or store it with your card. Do not use your birth date as your PIN, especially if you carry your driver's license with your card. Never tell your PIN to anyone or let anyone else enter your code.
  • Never give card information out over the phone.
    No one else ever needs to know your PIN- not even representatives of your financial institution, retail clerks or the police.
  • Shield your PIN.
    To guard against others observing you as you key in your PIN at a terminal, stand directly in front of the keyboard or PIN pad to block the view of anyone standing near you.
  • Report a lost or stolen card at once.
    Even though your ATM card cannot be used without your PIN, report a lost or stolen card to your financial institution immediately.
  • Keep your receipts.
    To guard against transaction fraud, check your receipts against your monthly statement. If anything looks irregular, or there are any unauthorized transactions, report them to your financial institution immediately.
  • Let common sense be your guide.
    By taking these simple precautions, you can help ensure that your personal safety and privacy are protected with each transaction you perform.

Source: Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation