• Observe your surroundings before using an ATM. If the machine is obstructed from view or poorly lit, visit another ATM.
  • Shield the screen and keyboard so anyone waiting to use the ATM cannot see you enter your PIN or transaction amount.
  • Put your cash, card and receipt away immediately. Count your money later, and always keep your receipt.
  • If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. If anyone follows you after making a transaction, go to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police.
  • When using an enclosed ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting strangers follow you inside.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, make sure all passenger car doors are locked and windows are up.
    • Do not count your money near the ATM: Weigh the minimal chance that the ATM spit out the wrong amount of cash versus the huge enticement this activity offers to a robber. Just pocket your cash quickly and go. This will bring unwanted attention to you and your money. Always wait until you are in your car or somewhere safer.
      • Watch for skimmers or other alterations to the machine: Savvy thieves can make alterations or add components to the ATM that let them collect your personal information. Or, they may be able to jam the cash dispenser, hoping you will head into the bank to report it while they walk off with your money.If anything looks out-of-place or newly-added to the machine, find another ATM.
      • Take out only as much cash as you need: It is just simple math. If you get robbed of N50 instead of N150, you end up at least a bit better off. Also, if the robber can see that you have only taken out a small amount of cash, they may decide you are not worth the effort or risk.Take any receipts or statements issued from the ATM after your transaction is finished: Never leave them behind, even if you crumple them up a bit and shove them into the little trash slot the ATM may have.
        • Do not leave your car unlocked or engine running when you get out to use an ATM.
        • While many ATMs are available 24 hours a day, some may be open only during local business hours. To be on the safe side, plan your withdrawals ahead of time.
        • Check with your financial institution to determine what the daily withdrawal limit is for your account.

        Protecting your card

        • Keep your card in a safe place to avoid damage or theft.
        • Memorise your PIN. Never write the PIN down on anything in your wallet or on the card.
        • When selecting a PIN, avoid numbers and letters that relate to your personal information. For example, don’t use your initials, birthday, telephone or Social Security number. If you have such a number, contact your bank and get a new PIN issued.
        • Immediately report a lost or stolen card to your financial institution.
        • To help guard against fraud, keep your ATM receipts until you check them against your monthly statement.

        Tips when travelling abroad

        • International ATMs may save you money. Withdrawals are dispensed in local currency and are debited from your account in United States dollars based on a favourable exchange rate.
        • All ATMs feature easy-to-read instructions in English and the local language.
        • Have your card out and ready to use.
        • Some international ATMs are available only during normal business hours. Hours vary from country to country.
        • Most international ATMs do not permit transactions involving multiple accounts. Most likely, your transaction will be routed to your primary account.
        • Four-digit numeric PINs are standard in most countries.


        • Bring a friend to the ATM: Robbers usually prefer to target isolated individuals, as opposed to groups of two or more. If you can bring a trusted friend (or even better, group of friends) along with you to the ATM, you will make a much less enticing target.

        Make sure you trust everyone in your ATM “herd,” though — you do not want to get scammed by a friend-of-a-friend!

        • Get cash inside the bank or at another location: If it is during business hours and the bank is open, why not just walk up to the teller and withdraw some cash instead? Or, consider getting cash back when making a debit card transaction at the grocery store or other retailer.
        • Do not flaunt your jewellery or other valuables: Keep your bling and your fancy purse or jacket at home when you hit the ATM. Stick with sweats or something else that does not shout “look at all the money I have!”

    If you do not need to keep them, tear them up thoroughly and take the ripped pieces with you to throw away at home. Even a receipt that you do not want can be found by someone else and used for malicious purposes.


    – Copyright PUNCH.

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