How to Avoid Being Robbed at an ATM

Several newspaper articles I’ve read describing ATM robberies, show that some people are making it easy for robbers to strike at ATM machines.

My advice is to have only one favorite ATM location you use to get cash.  This should be a bank location (not department store, etc.) and you should be familiar with the surroundings of this location.  It should be a well lighted area on a corner intersection of well traveled streets.  The more people driving by, the less chance for hiding and “secrecy” for the robber, and the more witnesses there will be to anything suspicious going on.Woman at ATM

Get familiar with this location.  Know the layout of the building, where bushes and trees are, etc.  Survey the area around the building as you drive up.  If you see something suspicious you should probably just leave.

For people that travel, having one favorite ATM location might not be convenient but you should still get familiar with favorite spots in whatever cities you pass through, and/or plan to get cash you may need ahead of time before starting out on a trip.

Look for someone loitering near the building or someone sitting in a car that doesn’t appear to be waiting to use the ATM.  Even someone innocently riding a bicycle around the parking lot could be waiting to rob someone.

Using ATM machine

In any of these instances you can just decide to leave and/or report the suspicious activity to the police.  If you call the police, you have to decide if you want to take the time out of your schedule to give a lot of information, and/or even wait for an officer to arrive to give the information to.

Most ATM robberies happen at night-time hours between 7PM – 4AM.  If you don’t mind going to the ATM during normal daytime business hours, even an ATM outside the bank is safer than at night, because most robbers don’t want to approach while people are coming in and out of the bank.

More ATM Tips:

  • Have your card ready when you approach the machine.
  • Don’t be distracted, talking on your cell phone, listening to music, etc.  Be alert and aware to what’s going on around you.
  • After taking your money from the machine, don’t hang around.  You should be able to do a quick glance of your cash to make sure it’s the right amount, while keeping it close to your body.  Then you should leave immediately.
  • You may want to take someone with you after hours.  This is especially true for elderly people and womenTake a younger male friend with you.
  • Some sources say to use drive-up ATM’s, but in my opinion these aren’t really safer because there are more places for thieves to hide at these locations.  Also, while inside your car the view around you is blocked from many angles, and a robber can sneak up from the back or side of your car.  Also, someone could block you in with another vehicle.
  • Don’t give your PIN number to anyone, not even a bank employee or someone who says they’re a bank employee.


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