ATM machines have been around forever. They are convenient to those of us on the run however pose a great element of risk. Using an ATM machine in a safe manner requires awareness. Just because an ATM machine is available 24-hours a day doesn’t mean it is safe to use it at all hours of the night.

Most ATM robberies occur at night between 8:00 PM and midnight. ATM robbers are usually males under 25 years of age and usually work alone. ATM robbers usually wait nearby for a victim to withdraw cash. Most ATM robbery victims are women and were alone when robbed.

Most claim that they never saw the robber coming. Most ATM robbers use a gun or claim to have a concealed weapon when confronting the victim and demanding their cash.

Here are some tips that can make the ATM process safer:

Use ATM machines in well-lit, high-traffic areas. Don’t use ATM machines that are remote or hidden behind buildings, pillars, walls, or away from public view. Beware of obvious hiding places like shrubbery or overgrown trees. ATM robbers like to have the element of surprise and no witnesses.

Robbers like good escape routes such as nearby freeway on-ramps or high-speed thoroughfares.

Choose an ATM that looks and feels safe, even if it is a couple of miles out of your way. Try and limit your use to daylight hours. Try to rake someone with you if you have to go after dark. When you drive up to an ATM, look around the area for any suspicious persons. If you see anyone suspicious standing nearby or sitting in a car, drive away. When you approach an ATM on foot be prepared and have your access card ready.
Memorize your personal PIN number to prevent loss and speed the transaction. After inserting your card and your PIN number keep an eye out behind you. Never accept an offer to help or request for help from a suspicious male ahead of you at the machine. If anyone suspicious or seemingly dangerous approaches terminate your transaction and leave immediately, even if it means running away and leaving your ATM card in the machine. First, tell the suspicious male in a loud, firm voice to “back-off” and leave you alone. This is designed to startle the person and give you time to get away. When you receive cash from the machine immediately put it away, take your card from the machine and walk away.

If you use your car at a drive-up ATM machine the same rules apply. Keep the car in gear, with your foot firmly on the brake, while using the ATM machine. Keep a close eye on your rear and side view mirrors during the transaction. Robbers almost always approach from the rear driver’s side. If you see anyone approaching, drive off even if it means leaving your ATM card behind. If an armed robber confronts you, give up your money without hesitation. The cash is not worth serious injury or death. Get to a safe place and immediately call the police.

Do not use the machine if the lights around the ATM are not working.

Avoid ATM machines adjacent to obvious hiding places.

Have your card ready and leave quickly. Do not count your cash in public.

Beware of offers for help from strangers during an ATM transaction.

Don’t fight with or attempt to follow the robber.

Drive or walk to a safe place and immediately call the police.

These tips can save your life.