Using an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) to withdraw money is extremely convenient. It is quick, immediate and accessible at any time. It’s so convenient, that most people don’t think twice before heading to the nearest ATM to carry out transactions.

Though using an ATM is pretty safe, there are rare occasions when fraud is committed. In order to prevent this, some steps need to be taken.

What is ATM Fraud?

ATM fraud involves obtaining information on your account and PIN number. Perpetrators enter the ATM as soon as you leave and use that information to make withdrawals from your account.

How ATM fraud is committed

1. Card skimmer:These are small devices over the card slot that captures information from your card. A tiny camera is used to get your PIN number.

2. Fake keypads:These are kept over the real ones, and used to get the PIN number.

3. Card trapping:A device is used to prevent your ATM card from being ejected. Perpetrators may peer over a victim’s shoulder to get the PIN, create distractions so that he or she moves away from the ATM, and withdraw cash.

4. Cash trapping:Here, cash is prevented from being disbursed, and removed by perpetrators when the ATM user is distracted.

Here are six ways to avoid ATM frauds

Be Observant:

  • While accessing an ATM, being observant is a thumb rule. Users should stay alert while withdrawing money. If someone is following you or an individual doesn’t leave the ATM cubicle even on request, it is advisable not to withdraw money.
  • Users should check for spy cameras right above the screen aimed at fingers as they feed in ATM PIN numbers.
  • Users should look out for ‘shimmers’ that are inserted into the card slot.
  • When a card is inserted into the slot, users should check if the blinking green light has an additional cover or not. Such covers copy card data.

Maintain Confidentiality:

PIN is a necessary safety measure to access accounts through an ATM. It is a user’s responsibility to maintain its privacy. Never disclose your ATM PIN to anyone, however trustworthy the person may be. Scammers have now come up with a pin pad overlay system to track the digits that have been pressed. There is a silicone pad placed over the original pin pad to capture your PIN.

So, while feeding in PIN numbers, users should be cautious of a different sensation. They should cover their actions with the other hand so that the camera doesn’t record the sequence. Receipt should be saved to guard against any fraud.

Inspection of the ATM:

Another effective way of staying safe is to check the ATM thoroughly. It may be time-consuming, but it will offer protection from cons. Miscreants use skimmers that can record any input. They are illegally put onto the ATM. The devices are attached to the card slot or keypad. At times, the skimmers are advanced enough to withhold cash. Before entering PIN numbers, users should check the machine, card slot, and keypad carefully.

Watch out for Keyboard Jamming:

One way in which an ATM user can be defrauded is through keypad jamming. A perpetrator could jam the ‘Enter’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons using glue or by putting a blade or a pin. When users try to press the ‘Enter/OK’ button after entering the PIN, and don’t succeed, they think the ATM isn’t working. They may also not be able to cancel the transaction. When the user leaves, the perpetrator immediately slips in. Since a transaction is active for 20-30 seconds, he can remove the glue/ pin from the ‘Enter’ button and withdraw cash from the user’s account. Of course, the perpetrator will have to be pretty quick, and the loss would be limited to the ceiling on withdrawals. Moreover, only one transaction can be made, since the perpetrator will have to swipe the card again and re-enter the PIN to make another one.

In order to prevent this, users should not leave the ATMs until transactions have been timed out. It’s also good practice not to leave the ATM until users are sure the transaction is complete, in any circumstances.

Stay Away from Strangers:

Individuals professing to be good samaritans could turn out to be swindlers. They may note down ATM PINs and steal cards. It is wise not to seek help from strangers. If users are stuck, they should seek advice from the bank.


The next time you walk into an ATM and sense something dodgy, you know what to do. To know more about ATM security, click here!