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10 Precautions to take when using your ATM-cum-Debit Card

Recent incident that skimming machines were installed at some ATMs in Mumbai and money running into lakhs was withdrawn abroad, has come as a shock to many.

Skimming machines, as you would be aware, read and copy the data on the magnetic strip of your ATM-cum-Debit card. This then enables the criminals to make duplicate cards and withdraw money from your bank accounts.

This, of course, is a high-tech crime. There have been incidents of many low-tech crimes also at ATMs such as outright theft after the money is withdrawn, people watching you as you type your PIN and then stealing your card, using glue so that your card/money gets stuck in the slot, etc.

All this means that we have to be careful. We can't be too complacent. Following measures will ensure that we minimize the chances of becoming the next victim of any such low-tech or hi-tech criminals.

1. Don't write down your PIN number anywhere...at least not on your ATM card. Memorize it. Further, don't disclose it to anyone, not even the bank officials.

2. Preferably use an ATM which is within bank premises or manned 24 hrs by a security guard.

3. Avoid using ATMs which are in isolated places, dimly lit locations or on the streets.

4. Do not use the ATM where the card reader appears to be tampered with, broken, scratched, damaged, sticky with glue, has extra wiring or loose parts around the slot, difficulty in inserting the card etc. These could be signs of skimming machine having been installed.

5. Preferably use the same ATM machine so that you are familiar with it and may notice any 'unwanted' changes.

6. If there are people around, make sure that you shield your hand while entering your PIN. No one should be able to make out what numbers you are punching in. 

7. Restaurants, shopping outlets and petrol pumps are the high-risk areas where
some rogue employees might swipe your card in a skimming machine when they take it way for normal billing.

Register yourself for SMS alert whenever your account is accessed.

9. Don't throw away the ATM transaction slips until you verify the transactions in the bank statement every month. 

10. Change your PIN numbers as often as convenient.

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