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Do Not Use Another ATM Machine Until You Learn About ATM Security

Aug 17, 2007
Christmas is coming up and many will rely on ATM machines to get them through the busy shopping season.

I can remember a time when the only method of doing any transaction in a bank was on a personal level with a live bank teller. Then during the late 60's I remember seeing my first auto-teller. Many, like me, did our utmost to bypass the darn machine and use the live teller.

Today is a whole new ballgame as they say. Automatic Teller Machines [ATM] can be found just about everywhere.

ATM cash machines [hereafter referred to as teller machines or 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 a teller machine safely requires awareness and a little planning. Just because these machines are open and available 24-hours a day does not mean that they are safe to use.

Most robberies at teller machines occur at night between 8:00 PM and midnight. Robbers of teller machines are usually males under 25 years of age and most work alone. These robbers usually position themselves nearby waiting for a victim to approach and withdraw cash. Most teller machine victims are women and were alone when robbed. Most claim that they never saw the robber coming. Most perpetrators use a gun or claim to have a concealed weapon when confronting the victim and demanding their cash.

If you or your family members use auto-teller cash machines on a regular basis, the following tips can make the process a little safer.

Use only teller machines in well-lighted, high-traffic areas. Do not use machines that are remote or hidden by being located behind buildings, behind pillars, walls, or away from public view. Beware of obvious hiding places in the area around teller machines such as shrubbery or overgrown trees. Thieves like to have the element of surprise and no witnesses. They all like good escape routes such as nearby freeway on-ramps or high-speed thoroughfares.

Even if it is a couple of miles out of the way, choose a machine that looks and feels safer. Try and limit your use to daylight hours.

If possible, take someone with you after hours. When you drive up to a teller machine location, scan the area for any suspicious persons. If you see anyone suspicious standing nearby or sitting in a car, drive away without stopping.

When you approach a teller machine on foot be prepared and have your access card ready. Memorize your personal PIN number to prevent loss and speed the transaction. After inserting your card and your PIN number keep an eye out behind you. Never accept an offer of help or request help from a suspicious man or woman ahead of you at the machine. If anyone suspicious or seemingly dangerous approaches terminate your transaction and leave immediately, even if it means running away and leaving your bank card in the machine. First, tell the suspicious man or woman in a loud, firm voice 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. Take your card and walk away.

If you use your car at a drive-thru teller machine the similar precautions apply. Keep the car in gear, with your 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 side of the driver. If you see anyone suspicious approaching, drive off even if you have not completed your transaction. If an armed robber confronts you, just give up your money without argument. The cash is not worth serious injury or death. Get to a safe place and call the police immediately.

If lights around the machine are not working, do not use that machine. Do not count your cash in public.

Do not fight with or attempt to follow the robber. Drive or walk to a safe place and immediately call the police.

I urge everyone to make sure everyone in your family is made familiar with these protocols to avoid any problems when using ATM machines.

Now is the time to use our head and put these practices into use.
About the Author
Bill Wallmuller is the founder of Merokee Enterprises. Two of the author's concerns are personal safety and crime prevention. You can learn more by visiting the Website: http://www.personal-defense-technology.com
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