Because of the variety of ATMs, the unique characteristics of each installation and crime considerations at each location, no single formula can guarantee the security of ATM users. Therefore, it is necessary for ATM users to consider the environment around each ATM and various procedures for remaining safe when using an ATM.
Criminals select their victims and targets, focusing on the unaware or unprepared. Criminals are also drawn to environmental conditions that enhance the opportunity to successfully complete their crime. The attitude and demeanor you convey can have a tremendous effect on potential assailants. There are a number of things you can do to increase your personal security and reduce your risk of becoming an ATM crime victim.
The following crime prevention tips can help make the use of ATM’s safer for everyone.
- Walk purposefully with confidence. Give the appearance that you are totally aware of your surroundings
- Be aware of your total environment and what is going on around you. Criminals tend to avoid people who have this type of demeanor
- Perform mental exercises and think out what you would do in different crime or personal security situations
- Follow your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, respond immediately. Remember that your personal safety is the first priority
ATM Selection Considerations
Although ATM environmental design issues are covered in the law, there are other considerations that an ATM user needs to consider prior to selecting and using an ATM. For example:
- Do not select an ATM at the corner of a building. Corners create a blind area in close proximity to the customer’s transaction. Select an ATM located near the center of a building. An ATM further from the corner reduces the element of surprise by an assailant and increases effective reaction time by the user.
- Identify an ATM with maximum natural surveillance and visibility from the surrounding area. This will create a perceived notion of detection by a criminal and increases the potential for witnesses.
- Select an ATM at a location void of barriers blocking the line of sight of the ATM. This includes shrubbery, landscaping, signs, decorative partitions or dividers. Barriers provide hiding areas for would-be assailants.
- Select an ATM that is in a well-lighted location.
- Solicit prior criminal activity statistics from law enforcement for the ATM site and surrounding neighborhood.
- Avoid ATM locations with large perimeter parkinglots and numerous ingress and egress points.
Considerations Prior To and During Transactions
- Always watch for suspicious persons or activity around an ATM. Be aware of anyone sitting in a parked car in close proximity or at a distance from the ATM location
- If you notice anything strange, leave and return some other time. Even if you have already started a transaction, cancel it and leave.
- Maintain an awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. Do not become so involved with your transaction that you are not aware of changing conditions in the area.
- Do not wear expensive jewelry or take other valuables to the ATM. This is an added incentive to an assailant.
- If you get cash – put it away immediately. Do not stand at the ATM and count it.
- Never accept offers of assistance with the ATM from strangers; ask the Credit Union for help.
- Never lend your ATM card to anyone; treat it as if it were cash or a credit card.
- If you use a drive-up ATM, make sure to lock your car doors, and have your windows rolled-up. Never open your door to perform a transaction. Do not turn off your ignition and, if safe, leave the car in Drive.
- During evening hours, consider taking a companion along, park close to the ATM in a well-lighted area and lock your car. If the lights around the ATM are not working properly, do not use it.
- When leaving an ATM location, make sure you are not being followed. If you are being followed, drive immediately to a police station, a fire station, a crowded area, a well-lighted location, or an open business. Flash your lights and sound your horn to bring attention to your situation.
- If you are involved in a confrontation and the attacker is armed with a weapon and demands your money or valuables, GIVE IT TO THE THEM. Do not resist, property may be recovered later or replaced.
- Memorize your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Do not write it down or keep it in your wallet or purse. Do not tell anyone else your PIN!! (including family, bank employees, the police, etc.)
- Shield the ATM keypad from anyone who may be standing, parked nearby or anyone crowding you in an attempt to view your PIN and/or transaction. Use your body as a shield if necessary while you enter your access code.
- Make sure you retain your transaction receipt. Do not throw the receipt away at the ATM site.
- Immediately report any lost or stolen ATM or debit cards to the Credit Union. Also, report any unauthorized card use to the Credit Union as soon as possible.
As far as your security is concerned, you can never be too careful, too prepared, or too aware. Share this information with family and friends. Schedule family discussions and practice regularly to ensure that everyone you know is safe and informed.