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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Crime Prevention at the ATM Machine


The use of automatic teller machines is as common as making phone calls on cell phones. There are certain steps that can be taken with ATM cards to minimize risk and improve safety.  First never write your pin number on the card.  Believe it or not police departments often take reports from individuals that lose or have their card stolen, with the pin number written on the card.  The pin number is a security feature that should guard against theft.  Having it written on the card is an invitation to theft.  Try using a number you will remember but that would not be obvious to a would be thief.  Perhaps  a number from some other area of your life, such as a phone number, child’s date of birth, combination of numbers associated with sports, your imagination is your only limit. 
Check your bank statement each month to make sure your account has not been compromised in some way.

There are a number of steps you can take while actually using the machine itself to reduce the risk of encountering criminals.  First be observant and aware of your surroundings while approaching an ATM.  If anyone in the area causes you concern exercise discretion and use another machine., even if it means incurring a service charge.
Try to utilize the machines during the day and in well lit busy public places at night.  Many stores now feature machines inside which will generally increase safety by reducing the isolation some machines are located in.

Plan your transaction ahead of time, knowing exactly what you are going to do, the less time at the machine the better.  Be aware that the friendly person in line may be sizing you up or distracting you while their accomplice moves in.  Someone offering you to get in front of them may have ulterior motives. 

When using a drive through ATM, keep your doors locked, other windows up, and be prepared to drive away if someone approaches you.  In both a car at a drive though, and on foot at a walkup it is always better to have a companion then to be alone. 

Finally take your receipt, don’t throw it in the garbage or leave it behind.  It may have valuable clues a thief might use to compromise your account.  Report any discrepancies to bank management as soon as possible.  If your card is ever lost or stolen report that to the bank immediately and start a log of when you make the notification and to whom. 

In summary, be aware of your surroundings; avoid using the machine if someone in the area makes you uneasy; exercise common sense; report any mishaps immediately; and don’t allow yourself to become accustomed to easy cash access, if it will cause you to exceed your budget.