Cash machines (ATMs) are a very safe way to access your account and avoid the risks of having to carry large amounts of cash with you.

Cash machines (ATMs) are a very safe way to access your account and avoid the risks of having to carry large amounts of cash with you. Millions of transactions are made through the LINK system every day and the chances of becoming a victim of ATM crime are very low, but there are a number of simple steps which all cardholders can take to help fight ATM crime, in particular, by the very simple step of covering your PIN with one hand as you enter it with the other.

  • Scan the whole ATM area before you approach it. Avoid using the ATM if there are suspicious-looking individuals around.
  • Check to see if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the ATM showing it might have been tampered with.
  • If it appears to have any attachments to the card slot, cash slot or key pad, do not use it and if possible alert nearby staff or call the police.
  • Stand close to the ATM and shield the keypad with your hand when keying in your PIN.
  • If your card gets jammed or retained by the machine or no cash comes out, report this immediately to your bank or building society, ideally using your mobile phone while you are still in front of the machine.
  • Check that others in the queue keep a good distance from you.
  • Keep your PIN secret. Never reveal your PIN to anyone, not to someone claiming to be from your bank, the police and especially not to a "helpful" stranger. 
  • Be especially cautious if strangers try to distract you or offer to help at an ATM, even if your card is stuck or you are experiencing difficulty with the transaction.
  • Regularly check your account balance and keep your receipt to check against your statement.

Video footage reveals how criminals can try to get hold of your four-digit PIN when you use an ATM that they have targeted.  However, as the seized criminal footage shows, by simply shielding the keypad with your free hand, keys, wallet or purse, you can easily stop a criminal from finding out your PIN.

High-tech attacks, such as skimming and copying card details, are very rare. Most ATMs have equipment that prevents this sort of attack. Moreover, since the advent of Chip and PIN, these attacks cannot work on Chip cards unless the would-be criminal discovers your PIN. You can prevent this by the very simple step of covering your PIN with one hand as you enter it with the other, protecting yourself from the person looking over your shoulder and even from high tech attacks like covert cameras.

However, ATM crime can and does sometimes occur. LINK and the ATM industry take this very seriously and we have published guidance on cardholder security to help ATM users avoid crime.

In addition, the Metropolitan Police has produced a really useful booklet on avoiding scams and crime and a free Pdf can be downloaded by clicking here or using the button opposite.

If you have information about cash machine crime you may be able to claim a reward of up to £25,000.

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