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10 Ways to Protect Yourself from ATM Scams

Check out these up-to-date tips to help protect you from the most recent techniques used by ATM scammers today.

The ATM cards and machines provide convenient ways of performing basic bank transactions. However, due to the popular use of the ATM, there is an increase in crime relating to the ATM frauds. It is not surprising to hear of stories about many who have fall victim to the malicious vices of ATM scammers.

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No wonder our older folks recline the thought of owning or using ATM cards, not just because of the complexity attached to this modern technological device embedded in a slate but more to getting mastery over the safety precautions in handling ATM cards and use of the ATM machine itself.

10 Ways to Protect Yourself from ATM Scams

Sometimes, we of the ‘younger generation’ or to say ‘Computer age’  may think we know better, but suddenly find ourselves a victim, jinxed and emotionally scarred by ATM scammers. This can be so even after you believed you had followed all necessary precautions to safeguard your card details.

Nevertheless, a popular saying goes: “Once beaten, twice shy.” Having that in mind, one cannot help but ponder: How could I step up my game so as not to become juicy targets for fraudsters with hardly a heart of mercy to be concerned with my financial situation? Let’s look at a few precautions that can very useful today.

1. Know how to use an ATM machine.

You can best avoid being a victim of ATM scams if you know how to use or operate an ATM machine by yourself. ATM machines are simple to use if you are determined to know how to use them. Simply read and follow the commands that correspond to your request by pressing the keyboard and the buttons besides the screen.

2. Choosing the right ATM

A key to safely perform ATM transaction is choosing the right and safe ATM machine for your transactions. ATM machines are usually found in public areas such as shopping malls, school premises, hotels, and at banks. ATM machines situated at bank locations are highly recommended than those at other public places.

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Normally, ATM machines situated at banks are under strict security surveillance than the latter. These ATM machines are monitored by surveillance camera and security personnel. Therefore, there is none or limited chance that the ATM would be tampered by fraudsters.

ATM machines located in illuminated areas are also recommended to aid in carry out a quick check before using the machine. It is safer to perform transactions during daytime hours than at night.

3. Be vigilant and observe your surrounding

Before choosing an ATM machine, it is very necessary that you carefully observe your surroundings. Scan through to observe individuals hanging around or queuing at the ATM. Not all persons queue for the same purpose. Sometimes, there you may be approached by ordinary-looking people requesting for your help. Avoid such ATMs.

If at all your circumstance is urgent, leave the area immediately after using the ATM. Watch your back that you are not stalked. Do not answer questions from any individual so that you may not be duped by someone using a spell or magic.

4. Look out for ATM Skimmers

ATM skimmers are usually small devices such as card readers or PIN code detectors that are attached to the ATM machines or disguised as part of the machine. Skimming devices are designed to save the user’s card number and PIN code in order to replicate a counterfeit copy for illegal transactions.

They are usually placed on top or inside the card entry slot, or at the keyboard of the ATM machine. The latter are usually difficult to detect. However, it is best to jiggle the card entry slot and keypad to check for tampering, scratches, adhesives or strange objects attached to the ATM machine.

If you suspect anything strange, it is better to use another ATM machine or report the situation. Always use one your hand to cover the keyboard while keying in the PIN with the other. Sometimes, one may find suspicious labels that say “Card Cleaner” or “Slide card here first.” Still, it is safer to simply ignore such labels.

5. Don’t re-enter your PIN when the ATM seizes your card

ATM fraudsters insert blocking devices into card slots to seize ATM cards. As you re-enter your PIN, you give fraudsters access to both your PIN and to make free withdrawals from your bank account at their convenience. Therefore, be cautious of receiving advice from strangers that act and talk like ‘good Samaritans’ who would cunningly persuade you to re-enter your PIN.

6. Be savvy about information regarding your card details

Your ATM card number is your personal belonging that you must treat as your PIN code. It is among the information that scammers need to get access to your account.

The details on your ATM card must not be information that is readily given out to anyone, not even a bank official. Sometimes when renewing your ATM cards or when notifying the bank of transaction errors, you would be required to provide full or partial details of your card number.  In such a case, always tactfully collect details of the bank official handling your issue.

Additionally, you must avoid giving your cards to strangers when you need assistance over using ATM machines. ATM fraudsters have brilliant ways of getting your card details or swapping your ATM card for a counterfeit one speedily before you realize it. Instead request that a close friend or a bank official help you, but never disclose your PIN.

Also be careful not to leave your ATM cards in your handbags or Car compartments when visiting the rest room or attending to other necessary tasks. Ensure to shred all ATM receipts before discarding in a safe area.

7. Use credible websites for online transaction.

It is wise to carry out transactions of any sort in a website that is encrypted. But it is unwise to send your card details through emails or social media platforms because such sites are not usually encrypted.

Installing an Adaware ad block browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox can ensure that you are always on a secured site when keying in card details.

These extensions are regularly updated to protect one from the latest cyber threats. They blend quite well with your browsing experience. When card details are required during online transaction, ensure that the website has secure transaction symbol such as the ‘lock’ icon on your browser.

8. Safeguard your PIN

It is necessary to avoid storing PIN code and bank details in your mobile device. When phone gets missing or is stolen, such details make your bank account vulnerable to fraud. Additionally, never let a store clerk help you to key in your PIN on the P.O.S.

Banks usually issue out PIN along with new ATM cards. It is safer to change PIN immediately when using your ATM card for the first time. Destroy any information related to your PIN.  Avoid accessing other services using the same PIN number. Always ensure to memorise your PIN instead of writing it down on a paper.

9. Regularly update your bank details

Updating personal information with your bank makes it easier for the bank to notify you on any suspicious transaction.  Your personal information relating to the bank would include your current name, current house address and phone number with other essential details.

If you notice any suspicious transaction that has been made, report to your bank immediately. Or if your ATM card gets missing or has been stolen, notify the bank as soon as possible. You may request that your ATM card be deactivated to prevent illegal transactions.

10. Regularly change your PIN

Though it is not always easy to remember your PINs, however, changing your ATM PINs regularly has an added advantage of securing your ATM card if your card details or PIN has been compromised without your knowledge. Avoid using names, or number sequence that is simple for one to guess or figure out.


As new security features are added to secure the ATM cards and machine, ATM scammers would look for every possible way and opportunity to advance in their wicked schemes.

Would you let your hands drop? Ensure to follow up on the above mentioned tips provided to keep you up-to –date. Therefore, never compromise your ATM details, stay safe and be smart with the use of ATM cards and machines.

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Mary Utuk

Mary is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNIgeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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