Friday, June 5, 2015

Security At An ATM

Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) have been around for many years now. The first patent for an ATM was applied for in the U.S. in 1960 so they have been around for over 50 years. In the last 30 years they have been found in stores and restaurants in North America, Europe, and Asia. Using an ATM securely requires some forethought and preparation. Just because the ATM is there doesn’t mean it’s safe to use 24/7. Most ATM robberies happen at night between 7PM and midnight. This is the lightest workload of most machines. Most of the criminals that do these robberies are under 25 years old and work alone. They usually stay out of sight around 50 feet away. Half of ATM robberies happen after cash is withdrawn. Most victims are women and/or alone and never saw the robbers approach. Most robberies were armed, or claimed to be armed.
The first thing to remember is situational awareness. If I am in an unfamiliar area I would have to be in real dire straits to stop and use an isolated ATM. Use ATM’s only in a high traffic, well lit place. If the machine is hidden away from public view. Avoid walls, pillars, foliage, and other obstacles around or near an ATM. If that seems to be the only one, drive a few miles for a safer one. Criminals don’t like witnesses and like quick, secluded escape routes near on-ramps or high speed roads.
Next is to pick a safe location. Inside a restaurant or convenience store is best but not perfect. A machine where you don’t have to leave your car is good, but the same rules apply. Keep your doors locked. Keep your head on a swivel and the car in gear. Keep a list of your favorite machines that you know are safer than others in your car. Whenever you use a machine, have the card out and ready, know the screens that will come up, and have your PIN memorized. Limit your ATM use to daylight hours if possible. Also, try to not be alone and brief the person with you what to look for and to stay alert. As soon as you can take your eyes away from the ATM, do so and be alert. If someone approaches and is suspicious leave, even if it means leaving your card. If they are not particularly suspicious and you feel OK about them because it’s daylight and there are people around, make sure you turn and face this person looking straight at them. If they are a threat “fight or flight”. You can leave or defend. If they seem like they are just waiting for the machine, make sure they know you are watching them. Most people will give you a polite distance. Remember the 21 foot rule. A person can move 21 feet in about 2 seconds normally. You can ask someone to “move back please” without offending usually. If there is any indication of a problem, leave. In a car to rob you an assailant must approach from the rear or front, drivers side. These are your target areas to watch. If you think there is going to be a confrontation say in a firm, load voice, “back off”! This is supposed to startle or surprise a person to give you a second to leave. When you do get cash, make sure you put it away immediately. Leave as fast as possible, don’t linger.
Here are some tips in summary:
• Only use ATM machines in a well-lighted, open, high-traffic area
• Use ATMs at inside busy stores when possible
• If lights around the ATM are not working, don't use that machine
• Avoid bank ATM machines adjacent to obvious hiding places
• When you approach an ATM, scan the area first for loiterers
• Have your card ready and leave quickly, not counting your cash in public
• Walk, run, or drive away immediately if your instincts tell you so
• Beware of offers for help from strangers during an ATM transaction
• Tell any suspicious person in a loud, firm voice to back-off
• Don't argue with a robber, if confronted, and give up the cash
• Don't fight with the robber unless you feel a positive threat. Don’t attempt to follow the robber
• Drive or walk to a safe place and immediately call the police

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