Ensure Personal Security By Using ATMs With Caution

Personal security isn’t just about physical security protection at home. I heard a dreadful story from a friend recently about her elderly father-in-law. He has a cash business and was followed home from work, locked in an outhouse at his home with his terrified wife, and robbed of all their takings for the day as well as anything else the robbers fancied.

So it wasn’t a surprise when I opened my community newspaper (the Bedfordview and Edenvale News) to see warnings from the Edenvale SAPS about the dangers of depositing or withdrawing cash from ATMs. They reported a number of incidents where people were followed home from banks after withdrawing cash. They also listed useful tips for residents to follow and I think they’re worth repeating here as reminder to us all.

Be vigilant when banking to ensure your personal security

Use technology to your advantage to enhance your personal security. Register for internet or mobile banking rather than carrying large amounts of cash. If you have to deal in cash, follow this advice:

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • If you suspect you’re being followed after withdrawing cash, call the SAPS sector police vehicle or drive to your nearest police station
  • Be clear to the SAPS about your problem. Tell police officers the direction you’re heading in and try to give a description of the vehicle following you
  • If you’re withdrawing money at a shopping centre, be alert to suspicious activity around you

ATM protocols for personal security

When using an ATM, make sure you’re aware of your personal security:

  • Have your card ready in your hand before you get to the ATM
  • Cover the keypad with your hand and don’t let anyone see you enter your PIN
  • Don’t get distracted by anyone even if you’re struggling with the transaction
  • Cover the card slot with your hand if someone distracts you after you insert it
  • If the ATM is not working properly, press cancel and remove your card
  • Take your time to finish your transaction and put your card and cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving
  • Always make sure that the card returned to you is yours

Do not use the ATM:

  • If there are suspicious looking people around
  • If the area is dark
  • If you think it has been tampered with

And a word of warning about card skimming from SAPS

Card skimming is done by copying information from the magnetic strip at the back of a bank card. This is then used to create a clone of your card. To protect yourself from this:

  • Keep your card in plain sight at all times
  • If a portable card machine isn’t brought to you, insist on accompanying the salesperson, waiter or petrol attendant to the machine’s location so you can watch the transaction taking place
  • Register with your bank for sms updates so you receive cell phone notification of card transactions
  • Monitor your bank accounts regularly to check that transactions are valid
  • Report suspicious card transactions immediately

My friend’s father-in-law is far more aware of personal security now. He uses a cash drop box for his business takings and is learning to use internet banking, which does, of course, come with its own security problems but at least he and his wife are no longer in physical danger.

Contributor: Lindy Barry

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