How to Safely Use an ATM?

Most of us have used these money vending machines hundreds of times now every time we need cash but had it only on our card. You could also use your card to pay for the things you buy but most of the time, paper money is still king in some markets and is the only way you can make a payment.

You probably don’t think much about it, but even these types of machines are targeted by thieves and hackers if they seem like a good target. A location near a bank is the best location to make a transaction because you have a lot of cameras around you. On the other hand, some ATMs are placed in subways or narrow streets where is difficult to monitor.


It’s hard to understand how the software works and how to be safe using it because an ordinary person won’t be able to spot a difference in the software unless they work on such problems. Many companies do ATM fleet replacement and get to know their machines but hackers are always finding a way to beat it. This is becoming very hard for them because safety measures are improving constantly.

Some Google users have two-factor authentication on their Gmail which is now being applied on their bank accounts where you need to confirm the identity before making a transaction. Besides entering the PIN you will receive a code through a text message on your phone that you will enter on the machine. What we can expect in the future is biometrics where your fingerprints will be scanned.

Safe Environment

Once you enter the bank, you know that withdrawing money from their ATM is the most secure place to do it because of their surveillance. But that isn’t the case in most situations, and you need to do it in places outside of your country when you are traveling. These places are perfect for hackers where they are looking for the opportunity to gather your information.

This doesn’t happen that often but being safe should be a priority. When you are in these types of situations, the first thing is to check if there is someone behind you when you are starting to place your card in. Most robbers will attack when you get the card out of your pocket, but smarter attackers will look for different opportunities.

It’s not a smart move to rob someone near an ATM because you have cameras on it so hackers use skimmers to only collect data that they can use later on. To prevent this, just check if there’s something unfamiliar with the device you are using and if some parts are coming off. Always report it to the police when you find out something is wrong.

Spotting a Skimmer

There’s a small chance that you will find a skimmer on ATMs that are located in stores because workers are constantly looking upon them and making sure no one is messing with them. So, it’s always smart to use the one that is inside the building than those that are freestanding someone on the street. The skimmer will always be on the card reader, and it can be a loose piece of plastic that has a small scanner hard to notice.

You can also check for hidden cameras but the best way to be secure is to cover the card when placing it in and covering the keypad when entering your pin. Some of them will go as far as making the whole case but those are easy to notice on any device because they work as a phone case. Read more here.

Safe ATMs

Because they are devices like many others, you have their manufacturers and companies that rent or own them. Some of them charge a larger and some a smaller fee which usually depends on what type of card you have. This means that it benefits you to look for the one that suits you the most if you plan to make bigger transactions.

If you are familiar with machines that your bank is using, it’s always better to withdraw from them. They are usually the most secure and have the best software. If you are not familiar with the one you plan to use, check first if someone else is using it or if there’s someone like an employee that refers it.