There have been multiple cases of frauds at automated teller machines (ATMs). To make sure that you don’t become a victim to any ATM frauds here is what you should know: If an ATM site is in a remote corner of the street and looks desolate, avoid using it. Find a brightly lit and well kept ATM. ATMs in India are typically located in 800-1,000 sq. ft outlets, done up depending on the branding of the bank to which they belong, while others are kept in lobbies of corporate buildings, airports, malls, etc.

Don’t enter ATM outlets if you find people inside. If they are using the ATM, let them complete their transaction. If they are just loitering inside, ask them to move out. If you suspect something fishy, leave the site. If you have to urgently withdraw cash, before starting the transaction, check your surroundings and the ATM for any hidden camera. Look at the card reader. If you see something looking abnormal, tug at the card reader to check for any ‘skimmer’ (a device to read your card data) attached to the card reader. Check the slot from which cash comes out of the ATM. Do you see anything out of the ordinary? If so, don’t use the ATM.

I have seen cardholders giving their card and PIN to their family member, or other people, requesting them to withdraw cash for them. Giving your card and PIN is like giving the key to your account and your hard-earned money. Never give your card or PIN to anyone, even to your own child, spouse or sibling. There have been numerous instances where a cardholder’s relatives have defrauded the cardholder using his/her card and PIN.

Also read: The science behind banks’ ATM location strategy

ATMs are very simple to use and using it once or twice will give you the confidence to use it regularly. Many fraudsters loiter around ATMs, trying to act as good samaritans. They talk sweetly to you, watch you enter your PIN and memorise it. They pull out your card from the card reader and switch the same with a look alike card which they give to you. You may not notice that you have the wrong card.

Once you leave the site, these fraudsters use the card obtained from you and the PIN noted by them to empty out your account. Don’t take help from strangers while using the ATM. If there are people right behind you or at your side when you are transacting, please ask them to move away. While entering your PIN on the ATM, cover the movement of your fingers on the PIN pad, with the other hand, purse, book, mobile or any other thing that you may have with you. This will ensure that even if people try to see the numbers you are pressing on the PIN pad or there are hidden cameras near the ATM, capturing your hand movement and thereby your PIN, they will not be successful. Some ATMs have a ‘PIN shield’ which is like a flap on both sides of the PIN pad. This is mainly to protect your PIN entry from the hidden cameras.

But fraudsters are one-up on this. They install a small camera on the inside part of the flaps. So if you see ATMs which have flaps on either side of the PIN pad, please put your hand under the flaps and check for any hidden cameras. Please stand as close as possible to the ATM. This will ensure your body covers the activities you do on the ATM and nobody from behind is able to see your account balance, your PIN or the amount you are withdrawing.

Quickly count the cash you receive, put it in your wallet or bag, press the cancel button and wait till the ATM screen shows the ‘Welcome’ screen before you move away. This ensures your transaction is fully completed and no one can access your account through your card and PIN. While withdrawing cash from the ATM is a simple process, you can make it safer if you keep the precautions in mind.

Radha Rama Dorai is managing director, ATM & Allied Services, FIS

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