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At the ATM: Ways to Minimize Fees and Maximize Security, Pt. II

Many depositors who need cash often turn to ATMs because of the convenience. But that convenience can come with costs. Here are five more things to keep in mind at the ATM so that the cash coming out of your account goes into  your pocket.

  1. Keep personal safety in mind. ATM manufacturers and owners, including financial institutions, go to great lengths to prevent robberies and fraud at cash dispensing machines. But even so, you need to be careful. Be aware of your surroundings, particularly if there is anything suspicious, such as a broken light or someone loitering nearby. Have your card in your hand as you approach the ATM. And, if you withdraw cash, put it away promptly. The time for counting your money can come later in private.
  1. Walk away if you notice something suspicious at the machine. The FBI recommends inspecting the ATM for anything that looks unusual, such as scratches or tape near where your card would go. Those could indicate fraudulent recording devices have been attached to the ATM for "skimming" or gathering information from the magnetic strip on the back of the card. For similar purposes, fraudsters also use transparent overlays on ATM keypads that can record keystrokes and tiny cameras that are focused on where ATM users enter their personal identification numbers (PINs).
  1. Take precautions with your ATM cards. Know where your current cards are and keep them safe. Also, make sure to destroy old or expired ATM cards. If your debit or ATM card falls into the wrong hands, someone could try to create a counterfeit or use the information on the card to fraudulently order a new one from your bank. Be sure to cut through the account number and magnetic strip before throwing the pieces in the trash. Also, keep in mind that banks are increasingly replacing credit and debit/ATM cards with new cards with computer chips that can better protect against fraud.
  1. Protect your PINs. Memorize your PIN and never write it on your ATM card or on a piece of paper in your wallet. Don't share your PIN with anyone who isn't a co-owner of the account. And, when you enter your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand.
  1. Immediately report a lost or stolen card or anything else that could be a warning sign of a problem. Promptly notify your bank if you misplace your card or if you spot an unauthorized ATM or debit card transaction on your account. The faster you report a problem, the greater your federal protections are under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act.

Also, never respond to unsolicited requests for your bank account number and the PIN for your debit/ATM card. And, be sure to report anything dangerous or suspicious you see at an ATM to the police or the bank that owns the machine.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider about choosing and using ATMs. You may also want to ask a customer service representative at your bank for other practical suggestions.