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Be Safe at the ATM

Withdrawing cash at an ATM is generally safe and the vast majority of ATM transactions happen without problem. However, ATM’s are in public areas and sometimes attract criminals who see the ATM as an opportunity to steal your card, your cash or to copy your card details. It is therefore important, to take some common sense precautions when withdrawing cash.

Cover your PIN

  • Stand close to the ATM and always shield the PIN pad with your free hand and your body to prevent those around you seeing your PIN. This will also protect your PIN from being recorded by a hidden camera in the event that a criminal has placed one on the ATM.
  • Shielding your PIN so that no one can see it is one of the most important things you can do while using an ATM.
  • Below see genuine footage (supplied by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and collated by BPFI) from a camera installed by criminals on an ATM which shows how easy it is to see the PIN pad, once a micro-camera is installed. It also shows how simple it is to cover the PIN pad and conceal your PIN.


Be Alert at the ATM

  • Be aware of the people around you, especially those standing close by. If someone is crowding you or trying to distract you, cancel the transaction and go to another ATM.
  • Be aware of any damage or obvious fixtures to the ATM that look out of the ordinary. If in doubt, use another ATM.
  • Be cautious of, seemingly well-meaning people, trying to help you at the ATM. Criminals sometimes use this tactic to cause distraction and to steal your card or your money.
  • Do not reveal your PIN to anyone, even if they appear to be helping you. Without your PIN, your card is of little value to a criminal.

What to do if you become suspicious of a compromise:

  • If you become suspicious of a compromise or of an individual(s) at an ATM, walk away. Report any suspicious activity to the ATM owner (if it is located at a bank branch) or to the Gardaí as soon as possible.
  • If you believe your card has been compromised, go to another ATM, change your PIN as soon as possible and report it to your bank or card issuer
  • If you have been distracted at an ATM, check immediately afterwards, that you have your card and your cash. Double check it is your card and not someone else’s card. Fraudsters have been known to distract the person while using the ATM, to steal their card and replace it with another card. The ATM user does not notice until they go to use their card again. In the meantime, the fraudster has withdrawn all their cash.
  • If your card is retained by the cash machine, report this to your bank or card issuer immediately. If possible call your bank or card issuer, on a mobile while still in front of the ATM. Fraudsters sometimes place devices on the ATM to capture your card. They then retrieve the card when you have left the ATM.
  • Report lost or stolen ATM cards to your card issuer immediately. The 24-hour emergency number is on your bank statement or can be found through directory enquiries

Important tips:

  • Sign any new cards as soon as they arrive from your bank or card issuer. Ensure that you cut up the old cards as soon as the new ones become valid
  • Check your ATM receipts against your bank statement regularly and inform your card issuer immediately if there are any withdrawals that you don’t recognise. Your bank will investigate those for you
  • If you carry a handbag, hold it with the clasp facing towards you. A money belt or secure inside pocket is best for valuables
  • Don’t leave payment cards unattended in a bag, briefcase or jacket pocket
  • At work keep your bag and other personal belongings locked in a cupboard or drawer
  • Never disclose your 4 digit PIN to anyone.