Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are a great convenience, but they can compromise your safety. A motivated criminal only has to keep watch on an ATM for a short time to scope out the availability of a potential victim. As consumers, I remind you to always be cautious of your surroundings and conduct your business only in areas where you feel comfortable.
Due to the availability of surveillance cameras, ATMs at banks are typically the safest option, but that does not mean you have to steer clear of the ones at shopping malls, airports and sports venues. When you need to get cash, be sure to plan ahead before making an ATM withdrawal. If possible, always have someone with you. There are several safety tips you should follow to avoid becoming a victim at an ATM.
• Always be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. If you notice someone or something suspicious, do not stop to use it! Go to another ATM or return at a later time.
• Avoid using an ATM after dark. If you must, do so only in a well-lit area. Be mindful of tall or overgrown shrubbery and vegetation in the area.
• Have your ATM card and any other documents you need ready when you approach an ATM. Fumbling with your wallet or purse makes you an easy target for thieves.
• When you use a drive-up ATM, be sure your passenger windows are closed and all doors are locked.
• If you are using an enclosed ATM, be sure the door completely closes and locks behind you. Do not allow anyone to enter while you are making your transaction. Authorized bank customers will have their own access (not holding the door for someone entering a secure area is not rude; it is safe).
• When entering your Personal Identification Number (PIN), use your hand or body to shield the screen or keypad. Never give your PIN to another; this is the leading cause of theft.
• When your transaction is finished, be sure you put your card, cash and receipt away before leaving the area.
• Do not display or count large amounts of cash in front of the ATM. Count your cash in the safety of your home or locked vehicle.
• If you are threatened for your money or your card by a thief, do not fight. Cash and cards are replaceable; your life is not.
• If at any time you need emergency assistance, do not hesitate to call 911.
While we all enjoy the convenience of today’s technology, these conveniences can come at a price. When you’re out getting cash, the Broward Sheriff’s Office reminds you to always be alert, be cautious and follow these tips to stay safe.