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ATM Robberies

ATM Robberies

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.

  1.  A robber approaches a person using an ATM and forces this victim to remove cash and give it to him.
  2.  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.
  3. 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.
  4.  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!

How to Protect Your ATM PIN Number

Protect Your ATM PINYour 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.