Security at the ATM

ATMs, automated teller machines, also known as “accessory to a mugging,” can be dangerous. By being prepared and thoughtful you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim at an ATM. Jim Johnson of offers a few simple tips you can practice at a drive up ATM.

Basic ATM safety tips:

  • If at all possible, don’t use an ATM in a vestibule or small room attached to a bank or other business. An attacker can trap you inside. Drive-up ATMs or ATMs inside busy businesses are somewhat safer.
  • Don’t use an ATM at night. visibility is reduced and there are generally fewer people around.
  • Have whatever you need ready BEFORE approaching the ATM location. If your focus is on your wallet or purse inside the car an attacker can approach giving you little or no time to react.
  • If possible, drive around or through the ATM location watching for anyone lurking nearby. If anything or anyone seems suspicious, leave and consider using a different ATM location.
  • Keep the car in gear with your foot on the brake as you arrive at the ATM so you can drive off quickly if someone suspicious approaches. If a threat is imminent, don’t worry about retrieving what’s still in the ATM. Your life and safety is far more important.
  • Maintain a visual scan of the entire area around your car and the ATM.
  • Conduct your business quickly and don’t stick around to count your money or put things away. Do that in a different, well-lit location.