You Can Never Be to Cautious
Generally speaking, automatic teller machines are very safe to use, and there’s no reason to be alarmed at the prospect of getting robbed at an ATM. Still, it always makes sense to be cautious. First, you be aware of the four different categories of ATM robbery.
- A robber approaches a person using an ATM and forces this victim to remove cash and give it to him.
- A robber orders a victim to give him his ATM card and PIN number, so that the robber may withdraw cash from an ATM on his own. This kind of robbery, of course, could occur far away from an actual ATM.
- A robber stakes out a particular ATM. Then, when someone withdraws money from that ATM, the robber follows her, and at some point demands that she give him that amount of money.
- A robber abducts someone and brings that person to an ATM so the victim can withdraw cash and hand it over. This is the rarest kind of ATM robbery.
If someone brandishes a weapon, or even suggests that he has a weapon on his person, and orders you to take money out of your ATM and give it to him, or to give him your ATM card and PIN number, you should never try to fight back. Keep in mind that about 15% of ATM robbery victims are injured, and injuries most often occur when victims resist their robbers. Remember, too, that the average ATM robber only gets away with about one or two hundred dollars, as so many ATM robbers are drug addicts who just want some money to get their fix. That’s a sum of money for which it’s certainly not worth risking injury or worse. You should also refrain from trying to run away or trying to somehow outsmart a robber. Instead, follow the robber’s instructions until this person is out of sight, and then contact the police immediately. If you can, try to remember exactly what the robber and the robber’s vehicle – if there is one – look like so you can give accurate descriptions to the police.
At some point in the 2000’s decade, an urban legend about ATM robberies began to circulate, and this information was widely spread via email. It said that if you are being robbed at an ATM, you should enter your PIN number backwards, as when you do that, an ATM will dispense the amount of money you ask for, but at the same time it will alert police officers that a crime is taking place at that exact location. It’s not clear precisely how or where this rumor got started, but it is not true. Entering your ATM PIN number backwards accomplishes nothing, and the delay for cash may anger your robber. So don’t fall for this hoax if you hear it for yourself sometime.
Much of the information we have about the frequency of ATM robberies comes from surveys done by the major banks. These surveys tell us that the rate of crimes occurring at ATM’s is low: a crime happens about one time for every million to three and a half million times that customers use ATM’s. Now, it might be common sense, but standalone ATM’s – ATM’s which are not located inside banks or other premises which are guarded – are much more likely to be robbed. Drive-through ATM’s are also, statistically speaking, safer from robberies than the kind you walk up to. And most ATM robberies occur at night – specifically, between the hours of midnight and four in the morning.
If you want to use an outdoor walk-up ATM in a place where no police officers or security guards seem to be around, try to find one that’s well-it, on a street where plenty of people are walking by and hanging around. Take a good look around before you go up to an ATM too, as most ATM robbers will wait until a victim takes her or his cash out before making a move. And if you are ever robbed at an ATM, you should contact your bank to let them know as soon as you possibly can – but be sure to call the police first!