ATM cash machines have been incorporated into our way of life. They offer a real convenience to those on the run, but at the same time offer an element of risk. Using an ATM machine safely requires awareness and a little planning. Just because an ATM machine is open 24 hours a day, does not mean it is safe to use it. Most ATM robberies happen between 8pm and midnight. ATM robbers are usually males under 25 years old and most work alone. ATM robbers usually position themselves nearby waiting for a victim to approach and withdraw cash. Most ATM robbery victims are women and were alone when robbed. Most claim they never saw the robber coming. Most ATM robbers had a gun or claimed to have a concealed weapon when confronting the victim and demanding cash.
If you or family members use ATM machines on a regular basis, here are some tips to make the process a little safer:
* Use only ATM machines in well-lighted, high traffic areas. Don’t use ATM machines that are remote or hidden such as being located behind buildings, behind pillars, walls, or away from public view. Beware of obvious hiding places like shrubbery, or overgrown trees. ATM robbers like to have the element of surprise and no witnesses. Robbers like easy escape routes like freeway on-ramps or high speed thoroughfares
* Use an ATM that looks or “feels” safer, even if t is a couple of miles out of the way. Try and limit your use to daylight hours. Take someone with you. if you can. When you drive up to an ATM location, scan the area for suspicious persons. If you see someone standing nearby or sitting in a car, drive away. When you approach an ATM on foot, be prepared and have your access card ready. Memorize your PIN number to prevent loss and speed the transaction. After entering your card and PIN number, keep an eye out behind you. Never accept an offer to help or request for help from a suspicious male ahead of you at the machine. If anyone suspicious or looks dangerous approaches, terminate your transaction and leave immediately, even if it means leaving your card in the machine. First tell the suspicious male to “back off” and leave you alone. This is designed to startle the person and give you time to flee, if appropriate. When you receive cash from the machine, put it away immediately, extract your card, and walk away.
* If you use your car at a drive-thru ATM machine, the same rules apply. Keep your car in gear, foot firmly on the brake while using the machine. Keep a close eye on your rear and side view mirrors during the transaction. Robbers almost always approach from the rear on the driver’s side. If you see anyone approaching, drive off. Even if it means leaving your card behind. If an armed robber confronts you, give him your money without argument. The cash is not worth serious injury or death. Get to a safe place and call police immediately.
* If lights around an ATM are not working, don’t use that machine.
* Avoid ATM machines that are adjacent to obvious hiding places.
* Have your card ready and do not count your cash in public.
* Beware of offers to help from strangers during transactions.
* Don’t follow or fight with robbers.
* Drive or walk to a safe place to call police.