7 ATM Mistakes You Might Be Making
And how to avoid identity theft
You just finished a lovely dinner out when you notice the two most annoying words ever to be written on a menu: cash only. But as you dash off to the ATM, do your best to avoid making these seven mistakes.
Withdrawing Cash From an ATM Without a Vestibule
You know the ATMs that are enclosed in a little glass room where you have to swipe your card to gain access? Those are the good ones. They’re extra secure and less susceptible to skimming—i.e. when criminals attach fake card readers or keypads to find out your account details. If you have to use a stand-alone ATM, be sure to give it a once-over first to check for anything fishy.
Forgetting to Shield Your Pin
No, it’s not just about the guy in line behind you. Next-level skimmers will go so far as to set up cameras to record your PIN as you punch it in. A good idea? Use your free hand to cover the numbers. When it comes to your cash, better safe than sorry.
Opening the Door for Others
Sure, it goes against every fiber of your being, but exhibiting ATM politeness by opening (or holding) the door for others is a pretty big no-no. It’s about security: Swiping your card to gain access to an ATM is a measure put in place for your own safety. Use your best judgment, but ignoring someone who is fumbling to get their card out of their wallet is A-OK.
Tossing Your Receipt
Computers never make mistakes, right? Wrong. An ATM receipt is the best proof of transaction should you spot an error you need to dispute. You don’t have to hold on to it forever—just until your withdrawal (or deposit) clears. Keep in mind: It’s best to shred your receipt before you toss it. (You’d be amazed what an identity thief can do with just your name and partial account number. Yikes.)
Using Your Credit Card
It may feel more secure than using your debit card, but the APR on ATM withdrawals using a credit card is sky-high. (Not to mention, a lot of times you’ll be subjected to additional cash-advance transaction fees.) Even worse, there’s no grace period on paying interest for credit-card cash withdrawals. Bottom line: Emergencies aside, your debit card is really the only card you should be using at the ATM.
Going All the Way to an ATM Just to Make a Deposit
It’s time to join the 21st century: Thanks to cameras on phones, mobile deposits are officially a breeze. Just download your bank’s app and log in to your account. To make a deposit, simply sign the check and then snap pics of the front and back. The only caveat: It’s a good idea to hold on to the physical check until the deposit clears. Same deal as receipts: It’s your only record should anything be digitally amiss.
Not Fighting the Fees
Exorbitant ATM charges happen. Never hesitate to call your bank and push back. If you’re a good customer (and nicely explain the fact that you had zero options available), in most cases, they’ll do you a favor and refund the fees. Hey, $3 here and there adds up.