Your ATM access is secured through a private PIN number that you designate once you open your account. Your banking institution will advise you on selecting a PIN that’s relevant to you, but one that will be hard for others to guess what it may be. Selecting this PIN must be a careful process so that it’s easy for you to remember, but harder for someone else to figure out. Choosing number selections like 1-2-3-4 or 9-9-9-9 are strongly advised against since they’re easily guessed. Instead, it’s best to choose a combination of numbers that correspond to something that no one knows about. For instance, you can choose:
- a family member’s birth year, i.e., 1972 (your last child), 1935 (your dad’s).
- your car’s model year (1998).
- your house number, with a “0” at the beginning or the end (#113 Elm Street would be 0113 as the PIN).
- the first four digits in your driver’s license number. Notice that it’s the first numbers and not the last four numbers as a suggestion.
Remember that whatever number combination you choose should be hard to guess for someone else. Stay away from the obvious PIN number selections that would make it easy for someone to hack. This includes:
- the last four digits of your social security number.
- the last four numbers in your home phone number or your cell number.
- your birth year (choosing another family member is better).
Once a person has access to your ATM PIN number, they can use it to access your financial account, whether they have the card or not. They can use that number to make online transactions and some offline transactions as well. Therefore it’s always advisable to protect your card and card number at all times. Here are some tips on how to protect your PIN at all times:
- Do Not Write It Down
Be sure that you do not write your PIN number on your ATM card. This is a just an open invitation to someone to take all of your money! Although it may seem that this will make it convenient for you to remember the number, it’s a bad idea in any case because it’s completely unsecure. Do not write the PIN number anywhere on the card, front or back. Also, don’t write the number on a piece of paper and attach it to the card, which is just as bad. Commit the number to memory, period.
- Cover It Up
Protect your PIN number anytime and anywhere where you’re using it. This means when you’re making a purchase and you’re swiping your card, or when you’re making a withdrawal at an ATM machine. Cover up your hand as you press in your PIN number on the keypad machine. Block the other person(s) view with your body while you’re keying in your PIN number. Use the end cap of a pencil or an ink pen to key in the numbers while you’re using a machine. Be creative while you’re being protective. Make it absolutely the hardest thing possible for anyone to decipher what numbers you’re keying in when you’re using your ATM card.
- Stay Organized
Right after you’ve finished using your ATM card, put it right back into the place in your wallet or purse where you normally keep it. Consistency is the best way to guard against accidents or even theft while you’re using your ATM card. If you simply throw the card down into your purse as you rush away from the machine, you’re more likely to lose it or forget where you’ve put it. By staying organized and consistent, you’re more likely to guard against card theft or accidental losses. Keep your card in the same, consistent place at all times. Being consistent will give you peace of mind because you’ll know exactly where everything is at all times.
Your PIN number should be regarded as a very personal, private and really important piece of information. Always keep it safe, keep it private, don’t ever share it and make it hard for anyone else to decipher.
Prepaid Luxury With ATM Cards
There is a certain luxury that prepaid card users experience, and that is convenience. There is no guessing on card balances or what is accessible to their accounts through their ATM machines. Since prepaid cards are not like credit cards, and do not behave like revolving accounts, the funds on the card are instantly accessible by the account’s cardholder. Also, the card and any card activity is not information that is reported to any of the credit bureaus because they are not credit card accounts.
Another perk of prepaid cards is that the money is available right away, whether it’s accessed through an ATM machine or by writing out a check for cash. There are no billing statements to deal with and no worries about having balances carry over from one month to the next. The conveniences of having prepaid bankcards extend to personal and business uses, traveling, transferring funds and using them to expedite any transactions where a bankcard is required.
Prepaid Cards Advantages and Disadvantages
There are of course advantages and disadvantages to owning and using a prepaid bankcard. For some, it’s the convenience of having quick access to their money through cash and ATM machines. For others, it may be the flexibility that it offers in paying bills online or performing shopping and purchasing transactions online. However, what one person deems as a plus, someone else may consider a minus. Here are a few reasons and options that people have as their prepaid bankcard cash and spending flexibility:
- The Only Option
- A prepaid card may be the only viable option for a person who needs to re-establish his financial track record, especially if they’re unable to open up a checking account due to a poor financial history.
In some cases, a prepaid card may the only way that they can get their financial lifestyle back on track as they work to re-build their credit scores and still maintain their financial responsibilities at the same time.
- A prepaid card gives the user instant cash access through numerous ATM machines and banks, making it an appealing solution for those who prefer NOT to carry around large amounts of cash. With a prepaid card, they can access their funds only when it’s convenient and preferable to them.
3. Instant Load
- A prepaid card can also be instantly loaded at many retail locations, like Walmart or pharmacies, like CVS or Walgreen’s. This is convenient for many individuals, especially for those who may have a limited income and need access quicker than going to a bank. There are also many ATM machines located inside some of these retail locations, which make it easier and quite convenient for the customer to shop and make cash withdrawals all at the same location.
There are also some prepaid card distributors who offer larger networks of free ATM providers than do some banks. The benefits of each prepaid card will vary from one distributor to another, but if the network is significant enough in terms of customers, they will generally offer free ATM services to its customers. This is a very important consideration, especially since the typical ATM provider can charge anywhere upward of $300 per year in basic administrative and maintenance fees. In addition, other fees like activation, transaction, bill payment and inactivity fees may also be factored in to the distributor’s fees, so it’s important to read the fine print closely and do a thorough search about the prepaid card distributor before deciding to use/not use their services.
People don’t think there’s such a thing as “free money,” but as one ATM distributor in the UK found out, unfortunately, there is. When the ATM cash machine performed a faulty operation, the machine started giving out twice the amount of cash that customers were requesting.
The machine did this for a few hours before the police were summoned to come in and guard the machine from further theft (theft? really?) and to maintain secure premises and keep down any confusion. It seems that the crowd was starting to get a little boisterous and the shoving and pushing to get in the long line was getting out of control. After all, there was “free money” to be had, and everyone wanted a piece of it.
Just to be clear, this was definitely a fluke with the machine, and there is no ATM machine anywhere that purposefully gives out wads of money to its customers. Something faulty had gone wrong with the machine or someone forgot to change the default password to change the denomination settings, and customers were getting twice the amount of money that they were requesting. Word about the free cash quickly spread, and that’s when people started lining up to partake of what was, to some, their dreams coming true!
What’s a Business Owner To Do To Avoid Giving Away Free Money?
The owner of the cash machine of course had to work quickly to correct the mistake, but according to the bank, they could not and would not hold the customers liable for an error that their machine had made.
This leaves a lot of questions in the mind of any business owner, like:
- shouldn’t the customers return the money?
- how can the business owner recoup these “lost funds?”
- what exactly happened with the machine to cause this error?
- what can be done to ensure that it does NOT happen again?
There’s no way to be sure to tell what happened, how it could have been avoided and what can be done to avoid it in the future. But as an ATM cash machine owner, there are some things that a businessperson can and should do to lessen the chances of this happening with his cash machines.
1. Have the machines serviced regularly.
Don’t just plop down a cash machine in a spot and leave it there without periodic checks and maintenances. It’s important to do more than ensure the machine has adequate cash, but to also check to make sure that the software is up-to-date, that the hardware is working properly (slots, trays, etc.) and there are no visible signs of wear (rust, corrosion, etc.) that would hinder the machine in any way from working properly.
2. Check on the machines regularly.
Actually going to the machine site on a routine basis is important. Whether this is once weekly or three times a week, anything can happen so it’s imperative to stay ahead of any potential issues by keeping a close eye on things. This means more than just restocking it with cash and paper. Perform routine system checks in addition to visual checks, and make sure to physically handle the machine when you do.
3. Consult Professionals
If anything like what happened with the wayward cash machine were to ever happen to you as an ATM cash machine owner, you’d want to know what your recourses were (if any) and how you’d need to go about taking care of this issue. Consult your business attorney(s) to see if:
a. you have any recourse
b. you can ask for/insist that customers return the money
c. you should file an insurance claim to recover your losses
d. there really isn’t anything you can do, and you should just chalk it all up to unfortunate incidents.
3. Change Default Passwords and Admin Function Codes
When ATM Machines ship from the factory they are all shipped with the same administrative passwords and lock combinations. One of the first things that needs to be updated are the administrative and management passwords. If you are installing the ATM yourself, be sure to change these passwords. If you have your ATM professionally installed, be sure to ask your installer to walk you through the change process and don’t give anyone your passwords.
A legal professional as well as the ATM distributor may be able to assist you on what actions you can and should take, and what you should reasonably expect from such a situation. Although in the UK case, the owners had to suffer a loss, but that may vary from one company and one situation to another. It’s best to know for sure before giving up.Read More