Recently, an alert for National Consumer Protection Week warned us to be cautious about using ATMs without checking for signs of tampering. Tampering, I thought, what could they mean? This week I ran across an explanatory article from last summer’s San Francisco Examiner, repeated on the Washington State Attorney General’s alerts page.
It seems thieves in California have figured out how to disable ATM keys by gluing down the “enter,” “cancel” and “clear” buttons. When you go inside the bank for help, having already entered your PIN number, the thieves creep out of hiding and withdraw money.
So before you begin your transaction, it’s a good idea to press all those buttons to be sure they’re in working order. If you do end up in a “sticky” situation, use the ATM’s touchscreen to finish or cancel your transaction. Don’t leave your card in the machine unattended. Call the bank on your cell phone, or ask someone else to go inside and fetch help.
It’s also a good idea to use ATM machines that are inside banks, or use the same ATM machine all the time so you’re familiar with it and can recognize any suspicious changes.
For more information about common ATM scams like the Lebanese Loop and how to avoid it, visit scambusters.