How to Avoid ATM Scams

By Erik Neilson , last updated December 9, 2011

Trying to avoid ATM scams isn’t always easy, especially in today’s world. Many people view using the ATM as a safe and normal part of the day, but the fact is that scams and fraud are omnipresent, and can happen to just about anyone. Fortunately, there are a variety of things that you can do in order to avoid getting hit with ATM scams, many of which are simple to incorporate into your daily practice. The following are just a few tips to help you avoid fraud and scams the next time you hit the ATM.

Never Ask a Stranger for Help
Anyone who has ever had difficulty using an ATM knows just how frustrating it can be. That said it’s important that you never ask a stranger for help if you are stuck when using an ATM. Not only can this invite the individual to steal your pin code, but you may actually set yourself up for a mugging in such a situation. If you experience difficult with an ATM, contact the bank itself rather than relying on the help of a stranger.
Examine the ATM for Damage
ATMs that have been tampered with are considered to be extremely high risk when it comes to scams and fraud. As a result, you should always pay close attention to the ATM you’re planning to use before inserting your debit card. If the machine looks damaged or like it has been tampered with in any way, you should move on and use a different ATM. Additionally, you may want to report the damage you’ve witnessed to the bank, which can help to protect others from becoming victims of fraud.
Avoid Busy ATMs
If the ATM you typically go to has a large crowd waiting in line, you may want to go elsewhere. Entering your personal information with a crowd of people behind you can increase the chances that your info might get stolen, which can have detrimental consequences. Strive to use ATMs that are shielded from the outside, and never use the machine if there is someone else in the enclosure with you.
Don’t Try to Recover a Lost Card
Everyone has heard horror stories about people getting their ATM cards eaten by faulty machines. The fact is, this can indeed occur, and trying to recover the machine on your own is never a good idea. Since eaten cards can sometimes be an indication of fraud, your best bet is to leave the area and call the bank as soon as possible. The quicker you act, the less your chance of dealing with a potential scam.
Avoid Using ATMs Late at Night
When darkness falls, using an ATM becomes far more risky than doing so during the daytime. This is especially true in areas that are sparsely populated, in which case the chances of getting robbed at an ATM are simply too high to risk. Strive to use ATMs during the day when at all possible, planning ahead if you plan on going out at night, which can help you to avoid entering into such a situation to begin with.
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