By Senior Officer Larry Jacobs
Crime Prevention Division, SSPD

When protecting your account against ATM thieves, it’s all about awareness, paying attention and understanding risks. There are 400,000 ATMs, and every one of them is susceptible to fraud.

  1. Cover your password with your hand. Hidden cameras are disguised so they can pick up your password. If you protect it, ATM thieves can’t access your account.
  2. Use familiar ATMs, and limit your visits. ATMs in dimly lighted spots or used late at night could be more susceptible to fraud, while ATMs under video surveillance can be safer. Stay away from ATMs at retail stores or restaurants. Recently, skimming devices were found on ATMs in a popular grocery store in Georgia. Airports, convenience stores or kiosks are equally vulnerable to ATM thieves. Still, even highly trafficked ATMs outside a bank branch have been targeted by thieves. Also, try to limit your visits to the ATM. With frequency, there’s risk.
  3. Check bank balances frequently. Given the two-day window for reporting fraud, it pays to check your account frequently. If you don’t report fraud within 60 days, you have unlimited liability. Sign up for alerts and notice unusual withdrawals. With credit cards there are more protections in place, and you can dispute charges.
  4. Observe the ATM. Consumers should look at an ATM to make sure a card slot is legitimate and not tacked on. Look for things that strike you. Some people have felt that when they inserted a card, something went awry. In that case, try another ATM.