Home Banking ATM Banking Beware of ATM Thief – Methods to Protect your ATM Banking

Beware of ATM Thief – Methods to Protect your ATM Banking

ATM Banking

ATM or Automated Teller Machine is a revolution in the world of banking. ATM banking offers the customers with convenient and efficient self-service banking options like cash withdrawal , money transfer between account, account balance inquiry, new cheque book order, bill payments and many more.

When the first ATM was installed in 1987 by HSBC in India, the only function of the machine was to dispense money. With technical advancements over the following years, ATMs today serve multiple functions. Special features have now been added to the machines, for instance the voice-guidance facility for visually challenged customers.

Regardless of all the benefits, using an ATM can make you extremely susceptible to theft and frauds.

Potential Risks

Imagine there is an emergency and you need cash at 2:30 AM. What would you do? You have no option but to go to an ATM, because banks would be shut at that time. No doubt you would be a little scared as you never know who would be lurking around to burgle you of your money. This risk increases10 times if the ATMs are at unfamiliar and deserted areas.

ATM Skimming: A New Threat

ATMs today are under limelight more than ever, for the threat of skimming. “ATM Skimming” is a mischievous device attached to an ATM by the criminals. When we use an arbitrated ATM, the skimmer creates a copy of the ATM card and seize your PIN. Worst of all, even though skimming isn’t a new threat, banks are still too slow to follow anti-skimming measures.

Methods To Protect your ATM Banking

Safeguard your PIN

Often in case of ATM skimming, hidden cameras are installed in a way that they can easily catch your PIN. Make sure that there are no cameras at unusual places on the machine. Cameras are NOT supposed to be ON the machine. Also, DO NOT share your PIN with anyone.

Avoid using unfamiliar, damaged or deserted ATMs

It is advisable to not use ATMs which are at dim-lit places. Also, avoid using ATMs at late-night hours. You should always keep some cash handy for emergency situations, so that you don’t have to rush to ATMs at odd hours.

Invigilate your account balance frequently

You should always keep a regular check on your account balance. Any discrepancy should be reported immediately. You should also enable email and SMS alerts of your transactions.

Ways to spot ATM skimming

Here are some of the ways to spot ATM skimming

  1. If you try to shake the card reader at an ATM and it moves easily then something is probably wrong.
  2. If something seems unusually wrong with the ATM machine, then there may be some problem. The same should be immediately reported.
  3. Also, if there is a camera on the machine, too close to the keyboard, then it might be a possible case of ATM skimming.

One can avoid skimming by being alert and once you spot something fishy, do not hesitate to report the same to the bank authorities.

Simply using your common-sense and by being alert, you can save yourself from being duped. Happy and Safe Banking!

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Parul Mahajan is a Post Graduate in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University, Delhi and also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Daulat Ram College, Delhi University. She is the author of ““Warring Over Religion and Feminism”, a Masters level Dissertation. Parul has also interned with Vimochana, a Bangalore based women’s organization working on various women’s issues.


  1. ATM cards are both boon and a bane for us. It comes really handy at times but also could incur loss on us. I would really love to thank you for this article Paarul. It has told us about the risks of ATM cards and methods to protect ourselves from incurring losses. The ATM skimming part was really educative..

  2. Thank you for your valuable comment Prajwal. You are absolutely correct about ATM cards being both a boon and a bane. It becomes really important on the part of the customers to be alert and use their common sense. The chances of getting duped reduce significantly once we get alert.

  3. Bang on!! I never knew there were risks to ATM-cum-debit cards apart from the fact that one shouldnt share their PIN with anyone at all. This piece has actually got me face to face with an unknown fact and i have been using ATM cards for almost 7 years now. Everytime i walk into an ATM now, will first inspect the machine. Always better safe than sorry. We usually tend to overlook a lot of things technology can do. Maybe its the education of these things which is much required for a common man.

    • Absolutely Nirali! I totally agree. It is not that we can’t be saved from the ATM frauds. It is 99 percent in our hands. If we are alert enough, no such mishap can happen. Do share this piece of information with everyone because, as you said, “Maybe its the education of these things which is much required for a common man”. Thank you for your valuable comment.

  4. ATM banking is very convenient when used carefully. ATM cards are easy to carry and you have all your savings at your disposal in times of emergencies. However, one cannot neglect the risk involved, many cases of ATM frauds are coming up these days, be it attaching a skimming machine, attaching a tape in the card slot so that your card gets stuck inside the machine and then can be used to commit frauds, etc. Cyber criminals are becoming more creative and using sophisticated ways to steal money. Recently, it was reported in Europe, that a malware named ‘Tyupkin’ was used to hack the ATM machines to steal the money. With the help of this malware, the criminals can empty the entire machine. So, the best way to save yourself is to be alert and keep yourself updated with the latest trends so that you can prepare yourself in a better way.

  5. It is so true. The fact that ATMs are so useful in this day and age, is a sign that how important it is to keep them safe and secure. Great information indeed

  6. This is a serious problem I was thinking about.It was an incident that my friend used the ATM at late night, then he just threw the available balance bill that is generated by the machine, unfortunately it had the details. So the criminal somehow withdrew about 5000 rupees. And then somehow we got the criminal. So it is very essential for us that the bill should never be disposed. Of course we can’t stop using the arms as it is used more frequently than the banks as the banks takes more time and it’s slow in generating money and definitely some long procedures.

  7. It is happy to understand the real risks involved in the usage of ATM cards. So many people are still in doubt whether to use the card or not. This blog really helped to understand what to do if I lose my password or if I encounter a potential risk with my ATM. The tips to save card quoted above are so useful! Nice read, simple but useful.

  8. Every coin has two sides and this is true for these ATM banking too. The good side that it is easily accessible and all it’s advantages comes hand in hand with its dark side. One cannot neglect the risk involved with it specially the hidden cameras, skimming. Before issuing these cards a thorough session should be had with the potential clients about the usage should be made mandatory.

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