Friday, December 9, 2011

ATM User Safety Tips

ATM users should be advised about what steps they can take to reduce their risk of getting robbed. While it is unlikely that providing safety tips will prevent any particular robbery, the larger purpose is to change ATM users' habits. Safety tips can be provided through mailings to cardholders, signs posted at ATMs, messages printed on ATM receipts, messages displayed on ATM screens, safety presentations, and public awareness campaigns. Listed below are some standard safety tips for ATM users:

o    Be aware of your surroundings, especially between dusk and dawn. If you notice anything suspicious—a security light out, someone loitering nearby—consider coming back later or using a supermarket or convenience store ATM.

o    If using the ATM at night, take someone with you.

o    Park in a well-lit area as close as possible to the ATM.

o    At a drive-through ATM, be sure the doors are locked and the passenger windows are rolled up.

o    If you withdraw cash, put it away promptly; count it later, in private.

o    Put your ATM card and receipt away promptly; never leave your receipt at the ATM.

o    Keep your PIN secret—don't write it down, and don't share it with anyone you don't trust absolutely. Your PIN provides access to your account.

o    Shield the keypad when entering your PIN to keep it from being observed.

o    Avoid being too regular in your ATM use—don't repeatedly visit the same machine at the same time, the same day of the week, for instance.

ATM users should further be advised to close any vestibule doors securely and not to open doors for others. In addition, signs at ATMs should state that the site is being surveilled by cameras.

Some victims resist during robberies either to protect their valuables or because they believe the offender is about to get violent. Some succeed in preventing the robbery through resistance, while others get injured or killed. Offenders want to get the crime over with quickly so they can escape. Any delay increases their nervousness and, therefore, the likelihood they will become violent. Robbers are usually highly agitated and easily perceive the victim's actions as threatening. Drug and alcohol use will obviously influence their emotional state. Some use violence immediately to preempt any resistance. In cases with multiple offenders, the risk of violence increases because each offender is also concerned about appearing tough and in control to the other(s).

As with other violent crimes, victims should assess the particular situation, taking account of nearby assistance, weapons they are threatened with, offenders' behavior and emotional state, their own defensive abilities, and their own psychological need to resist. Given an imperfect understanding of why robbers become violent, compliance is usually the safer course of action for victims, and the best advice for police to offer. Widespread victim compliance, however, undoubtedly leads some offenders to perceive lower risk and, therefore, increases their ATM robbery rates. Stay safe!

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