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Authorities offer safety tips for using debit cards at public ATM machines

July 12, 2017
Special to THE CITIZEN ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Did you know this year marks the 50th anniversary of the automated teller machine?

Also known as an ATM or cash machine, this handy way of banking began in 1967 in North London and used paper checks as opposed to plastic cards like those that we use today.

Most likely, users of these machines had little to worry about when it came to having their money fraudulently removed from their accounts by thieves.

These days, with an estimated three million ATMs around the world and the creation of skimming devices by savvy criminals, ATM customers must take basic precautions when using debit/ATM cards.

Whether you plan to use your card while away on vacation or here at home, follow these safety tips before conducting your transaction:

- Survey your surroundings: Before getting out of your vehicle or rolling down your window at the drive thru, take a moment to look around. Is there a suspicious person lurking around? Is the area poorly lit or located in an area where the view is obstructed from passer-byes? If so, leave and find a safer location, particularly if you are alone.

- When possible, use a machine located inside a bank or store. Not only is it safer, it also less likely to have a skimming device placed on it.

- Skimming crooks love long holiday weekends when the banks are closed on Monday, or any weekend for that matter. Before inserting your card, check the card reader and PIN Pad by pulling on them. If either of these are loose or look tampered with, call the number located on the ATM machine and/or your local law enforcement agency.

- Use your hand to cover the PIN pad when entering your Personal Identifying Information. This is to protect your PII should a hidden camera attempt to capture your number.

- Minimize your time at the ATM by having your card out. Do not flash money or count it while at the machine and remember to remain vigilant of your surroundings.

For more information or to have a crime prevention specialist speak at your community or business, call the LCSO at 239-258-3280.

Source: Lee County Sheriff's Office



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