ATM Safety Tips


Protecting Your ATM Card

  • Always protect your ATM card and keep it in a safe place, just like you would cash, credit cards or checks.
  • Do not leave your ATM card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you. Immediately notify your financial institution if it is lost or stolen.
  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never write it down anywhere, especially on your ATM card.
  • Never give any information about your ATM card or PIN over the telephone.

Using an ATM

  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night. If you observe or sense suspicious persons or circumstances, do not use the machine at that time.
  • Have your ATM card ready and in your hand as you approach the ATM. Don't wait to get to the ATM and then take your card out of your wallet or purse.
  • Visually inspect the ATM for possible skimming devices. Potential indicators can include sticky residue or evidence of an adhesive used by criminals to affix the device, scratches, damaged or crooked pieces, loose or extra attachments on the card slot, or noticeable resistance when pressing the keypad.
  • Be careful that no one can see you enter your PIN at the ATM. Use your other hand or body to shield the ATM keyboard as you enter your PIN into the ATM.
  • To keep your account information confidential, always take your receipts or transaction records with you.
  • Do not count or visually display any money you received from the ATM. Immediately put your money into your pocket or purse and count it later.
  • If you are using a drive-up ATM, be sure passenger windows are rolled up and all doors are locked. If you leave your car and walk to the ATM, lock your car.

How to Spot and Avoid Card Skimmers on ATMs and Payment Terminals

Check for Tampering

  • Check for any obvious signs of tampering at the top of the ATM, near the speakers, the side of the screen, the card reader itself, and the keyboard. Does anything feel loose or thicker than expected? There could be something overlaid on top.
  • If there are two ATMs, payment terminals, etc. next to each other, compare them. If something looks different, such as a different color or material, graphics that aren't aligned correctly, or anything else that doesn't look right, don't use that ATM and report the potential tampering to the terminal owner.
  • Even if you can't see any visual differences, push at everything.
  • ATMs are solidly constructed and generally don't have any jiggling or loose parts. Credit card readers have more variation, but still: pull at protruding parts like the card reader at a gas station.
  • See if the keyboard is securely attached and just one piece. Does anything move when you push at it?
  • Use ATMs inside the building whenever possible. Criminals frequently install skimmers on terminals outside since they don't want to be observed installing malicious hardware or collecting the harvested data. Similarly, use the gas pump closest to the cashier. Stop and consider the safety of the terminal before you use it.

Other Tips

  • Whenever possible, don't use your card's magstripe to perform the transaction. Use the chip function. While cracking EMV readers is possible, it's much harder than magstripe skimming.
  • Whenever possible, run your card as credit and sign the signature pad, rather than entering your PIN.
  • Consider using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Android Pay. These services tokenize your credit card information, so your personal information is never exposed.
  • If you don't notice a card skimmer and your personal card data does get stolen, don’t worry. As long as you report the theft to the Credit Union promptly, you will not be held liable for the lost amount and your money will be returned.
  • Keep your phone handy. The Credit Union has very active fraud detection policies and may reach out to you, over phone or SMS, if we notice something suspicious.

Special Precautions for Using an ATM at Night

  • Park close to the ATM in a well-lighted area.
  • Take another person with you, if at all possible.
  • If the lights at the ATM are not working, don't use it.
  • If shrubbery has overgrown or a tree blocks the view, select another ATM and notify the Credit Union.