Lights, Camera, Cash

If you need to visit an ATM after dark, bring a friend whenever possible and always choose ATMs with adequate lighting. For added security, use ATM locations where you know the activity is recorded by a surveillance camera or inside a store where other people are present.

Be sure to contact your financial institution if:

  • The ATM card reader appears to have been altered or looks “different”
  • The magnetic stripe or chip on your ATM card cannot be read by the ATM
  • Your ATM/debit card is lost or stolen
  • An ATM kept your card
  • You want to change your PIN
  • You have forgotten your PIN
  • You do not recognize a transaction on your on-line banking site or your account statement

Guard Your Card and Your PIN

Your debit card cannot be used without your PIN to make an ATM transaction or purchase that requires a PIN, so keep your number safe and secret. Memorize your PIN and never write it on your card or leave it in your wallet. When you use an ATM, stand between the machine and the person behind you so no one can see you enter your PIN.

If your ATM transaction does not appear to be processing correctly or you feel the ATM is not working normally, never permit a stranger to help you: Refuse anyone’s request to re-enter your PIN. Go to another ATM or ask for help only from a trusted source.

If you suspect someone is looking over your shoulder or are uncomfortable for any reason, cancel the transaction request and leave immediately. If your ATM card is lost or stolen, or if any suspicious or unauthorized ATM transactions appear on your account statement, notify your financial institution as soon as possible.

Be Safe in Every Place

Whether you use an ATM in an enclosed vestibule, on the street, inside a store, hotel or office building or at a drive-up ATM, always be aware of your surroundings. When you are in a vestibule, close the entry door completely upon entering and exiting, and do not offer entry to strangers. At the drive-up, keep your engine running, lock all your doors and open only the driver’s window. If you are walking to an ATM, stay alert and do not linger at the machine.

If you are concerned about safety at a ATM, notify the financial institution that owns the machine, the manager of the retail location or office building personnel where the ATM is deployed.

Tips when using your debit card online:

  1. Actively seek security.
    1. If the Web page where you check out and share your card information doesn’t have an address that begins with “https,” it’s probably not safe to use a debit card.
      Other signs that signal the level of security you want for card use: a padlock or VeriSign insignia at the bottom of the page. Both indicate that the site is using encryption to protect your data.
  2. Avoid using a debit card online, use a credit card instead.
    1. If you’re the victim of fraud or theft with a debit card, the money is siphoned out of your account immediately. Depending on the bank, the money could remain in limbo during the subsequent fraud investigation. With debit cards, you’re not protected by the same laws that protect credit cards. Even when online shopping involves using an intermediary, such as PayPal or BillMeLater, it’s smart to fund it with a credit card instead of a debit card just in case you have a dispute or problem.
  3. Think twice about buying via WiFi
    1. When you’re buying, don’t go wireless. Whenever you’re wireless, you’re exposed to more vulnerability. That goes double for public WiFi hotspot. Another no-no for the security conscious: buying via cellphone. While it’s great for browsing and comparison-shopping, when it’s time for you to enter card digits and click “buy,” consider using a device with secure routers, or opt for a land line phone to place your order.
  4. Understand what information sites need — and what they don’t.
    1. If you’re buying something online, there are four things they should ask you for: the full credit card number, the expiration date and the three- or four-digit security code and, possibly, a shipping address. DON’T EVER PUT YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER IN AN EMAIL. IF THE RETAILER DID HAVE A PROBLEM WITH YOUR ORDER, THEY’D ASK YOU TO CALL OR RETURN TO THE SITE.
  5. Don’t store your card information on the website.
    1. Sure, you don’t want hackers to get your information and use it without your permission. But you also don’t want to make surfing and shopping too easy for teens, co-workers or anyone else who has access to your computer. When your computer asks if it should “remember” your site password automatically, the answer is “no.” You may have to uncheck a box to do this. Similarly, as you’re making a purchase, the site itself will likely ask if it should remember your card information for future purchases. Again: no.