ATM Safety Top 10 List

Written By: Joel Council on 8/12/14 at 12:45 pm
In 2012, the National Crime Victimization Survey reported that identity theft cost Americans $24.7 billion. This total was $10.7 billion more, or almost double, the combined losses generated from household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and property theft.
Identity theft, first defined in 1964, is defined by Wikipedia as the following: 
“Identity theft is a form of stealing someone's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, usually as a method to gain access to resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator's actions. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.”
This list of sought after personal information also includes addresses, date of birth, social security number, pin numbers, mother’s maiden name, security questions and answers, and other personal information. This information must be kept confidential and guarded to help prevent your information from being used in criminal activity.
This article was written by interviewing Hector Flores, an ATM Camera Surveillance Expert. In conducting ATM camera surveillance, Hector developed a knack for identifying suspicious activity and reporting it to the proper authorities. In communicating his concern for people’s safety when using an ATM, he recommends people take the following precautions when conducting business at an ATM. The following is his top 10 list of things to consider.
10.  Watch your surroundings, especially if you are by yourself.
Mr. Flores observed an incident on the cameras where two males positioned themselves around a lady who was by herself. One pretended to use the ATM next to her, and the other was behind the both of them looking around. After the lady had logged into her account, the males came from each side of her and body pushed her away from the terminal. They stood side by side and blocked her from the ATM while they withdrew cash.
9.  Watch for people walking back and forth.
People walking back and forth may just be waiting for someone, or they may be waiting to see if you accidentally left your account open on the ATM. Mr. Flores has observed one individual in particular who was observed walking from ATM to ATM, checking the screens, and walking around the corner. The subject repeated this process at least 6 times.

8.  Watch out for people looking around a lot.
People who are hanging out by ATM’s and who are constantly looking around may be observing the area to see how much foot traffic is in the area and to see of the coast is clear before committing a crime.

7.  Watch out for people spending an unusually long amount of time at an ATM.
They may be trying to observe people entering their pin number. If they are unable to observe one, they may wait through several people until they are able to gather this information.
6.  Leave space between you and your neighbor at the ATM.
If there is enough space, allow at least one ATM between you and your neighbor. This cuts down on the possibility that they are trying to see your number or personal information.
5.  Plan ahead with your cash.
If you are rushing and realize you forgot to bring needed cash with you, you may compromise basic safety to get your cash. Plan ahead so that you do not put yourself into a potentially compromising situation.
4.  Watch out for malfunctioning buttons.
A scam ATM criminals have used is to glue down certain buttons such as the “YES” button. People who are conducting transactions are usually asked at the end of a transaction “Are you finished?” If the “YES” button is glued down, then people will sometimes be unable to end their transaction, which means they will not be closed out on the machine. This will leave their account open. If people give up and leave, then criminals will have an opportunity to hop onto the machine and continue conducting transactions with your account. Keep in mind that criminals may already have your pin number which will allow them to continue making a transaction if they are asked “Would you like to do another transaction?” Make sure that all your transactions are complete, and report any malfunctioning buttons to the bank.
3.  Be selective with the ATM you choose to use.
Try to stay away from solitary ATM’s in quiet areas, or ATM’s where people hang out. Try to choose ones that have a lot of foot traffic around them, or ones located in busy shopping areas.
2.  Avoid late night cash runs.
At night there are fewer people on the streets, which will increase your potential to be a victim and decrease your chances of someone being able to help you. If you use an ATM that is located inside a bank lobby, transients have been found sleeping inside these locations at night.

1.  Cover your pin number.
If people are using the ATM next to you, they may be pretending in an attempt to observe you enter your pin number. They may not have an ATM card, much less belong to the bank as a customer. Even if no one is around, cover your number. Camera technology is tiny, and all it takes is a pin dot size hole in an ATM for an illegally concealed camera to observe your pin number. Many of these people obtaining your personal information are part of a larger professional ring who after obtaining your pin can obtain more information about you including social security number, secret questions, re-issued ATM cards, etc.

Hector Flores is an Award Winner in his field for “exhibiting determination and perseverance to deliver exceptional performance in reporting suspects and assisting in the capture of a wanted criminal, Aloysius Hunter, on March 8, 2014.”  Following his Top 10 List of ATM safety tips can help reduce the possibility that your personal information will be compromised. You have spent a lifetime building your financial standing.  Be safe and take steps to protect yourself from criminals who can steal this information in seconds.
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