ATM OnGuard™ ATM OnGuard™



ATM Security Manual for Customers
By GASA (Global ATM Security Alliance)
Mike Lee
The ATM Industry Association

Summary of ATM Security for Customers

YOU, your PIN and your CARD looked after together are the keys to ATM security:
  • Approach an ATM only under the right conditions in order to protect YOURSELF
  • Ensure only you know, see and use your PIN
  • Follow the ATM screen's instructions when using your CARD and ensure the card is kept secure during and after use

The World's Top Twenty Tips for ATM Use
To enhance the ATM customer experience

Choosing an ATM

Tip 1
Where possible, use ATMs with which you are most familiar. Alternatively, choose well-lit, well-placed ATMs where you feel comfortable.

Tip 2
Scan the whole ATM area before you approach it. Avoid using the ATM altogether if there are any suspicious-looking individuals around or if it looks too isolated or unsafe.

Tip 3
Avoid opening your purse, bag or wallet while in the queue for the ATM. Have your card ready in your hand before you approach the ATM.

Tip 4
Notice if anything looks unusual or suspicious about the ATM indicating it might have been altered. If the ATM appears to have any attachments to the card slot or key pad, do not use it. Check for unusual instructions on the display screen and for suspicious blank screens. If you suspect that the ATM has been interfered with, proceed to another ATM and inform the bank.

Tip 5
Avoid ATMs which have messages or signs fixed to them indicating that the screen directions have been changed, especially if the message is posted over the card reader. Banks and other ATM owners will not put up messages directing you to specific ATMs, nor would they direct you to use an ATM which has been altered.

Using an ATM

Tip 6
Be especially cautious when strangers offer to help you at an ATM, even if your card is stuck or you are experiencing difficulty with the transaction. You should not allow anyone to distract you while you are at the ATM.

Tip 7
Check that other individuals in the queue keep an acceptable distance from you. Be on the look-out for individuals who might be watching you enter your PIN.

Tip 8
Stand close to the ATM and shield the keypad with your hand when keying in your PIN
(you may wish to use the knuckle of your middle finger to key in the PIN).

Tip 9
Follow the instructions on the display screen, e.g. do not key in your PIN until the ATM requests you to do so.
Tip 10
If you feel the ATM is not working normally, press the Cancel key and withdraw your card and then proceed to another ATM, reporting the matter to your financial institution.

Tip 11
Never force your card into the card slot.

Tip 12
Keep your printed transaction record so that you can compare your ATM receipts to your monthly statement.
Tip 13
If your card gets jammed, retained or lost, or if you are interfered with at an ATM, report this immediately to the bank and/or police using the help line provided or nearest phone.

Tip 14
Do not be in a hurry during the transaction, and carefully secure your card & cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.

Managing Your ATM Use

Tip 15
Memorise your PIN
(if you must write it down, do so in a disguised manner and never carry it with your card).

Tip 16
NEVER disclose your PIN to anyone, whether to family member, bank staff or police.

Tip 17
Do not use obvious and guessable numbers for your PIN like your date of birth.

Tip 18
Change your PIN periodically, and, if you think it may have been compromised, change it immediately.

Tip 19
Set your daily ATM withdrawal limit at your branch at levels you consider reasonable.

Tip 20
Regularly check your account balance and bank statements and report any discrepancies to your bank immediately.

Please note that you should show the same precautionary care when using your card(s) at a POS (point of sale) pinpad terminal in a retail environment or at a restaurant or when conducting transactions online, telephonically or when writing cheques (checks) - speak to your bank branch about security when using these other service delivery channels.

Additional Tips for Different Types of ATMs

Tip for Use of Lobby ATMs

  • If you are using an indoor ATM that requires your card to open the door, avoid letting anyone that you do not know come in with you.

Tip for Use of Drive-up ATMs.

  • Lock the car doors and roll up the other windows when you use a drive-through ATM.

Other General Tips

  • Ensure that you sign your card on the signature panel as soon as you receive it.
  • Protect your cards as if they were cash. Do not leave them unattended anywhere. Keep your cards in a safe place and never leave them or personal identity documents lying around at home, at work, in a vehicle or in public places.
  • If at all possible, do not let your bag or wallet containing the cards out of your sight in public places.
  • Be alert to what is happening with your card when performing a transaction. For example, do not let a restaurant waiter take your card away to settle the account, and watch your card when you hand it to a cashier. Watch while cashiers process your card - make sure they do not swipe it through two different devices: if that happens, contact your bank immediately.
  • Make a list of your card account numbers and telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards. Keep the list in a safe place. Check your cards periodically to make sure none are missing.
  • Never give your credit card number over the phone or internet, unless you are dealing with a reputable company, or you have initiated the call yourself or you are 100% certain of the caller's identity and that of the company they work for.
  • Read and understand the Terms & Conditions for card usage issued by your financial institution(s). Contact customer services if you are unclear about any of the terms.


Card jamming — where an ATM's card reader is tampered with in order to trap a customer's card. The criminal removes the card once the customer has departed.

Card skimming — where an illegal skimming device is used to copy a card's security information on its magnetic stripe in order to reproduce the information on a counterfeit card.

Card swapping — where a customer's card is swapped for another card without their knowledge during an ATM transaction.

Shoulder surfing — where an individual stands close by to observe PIN entry.

Compromise of PIN number — either the customer's PIN is noted by observation — “shoulder surfing” or through binoculars — or the PIN is illegally recorded by a hidden camera.

Vandalism — where an ATM machine is deliberately damaged and/or the card reader is jammed preventing the customer's card from being inserted.

Physical attacks — where an ATM machine is physically attacked with the intention of removing the cash.

Diversions — when criminals use messages and signs affixed to ATMs either to make the modifications they have made to the ATM look less suspicious or to direct customers to a nearby ATM which they have compromised.

Muggings — where people are confronted and robbed, usually using force.

Web site spoofing or “phishing” — where a criminal sets up a fictitious web site which looks authentic to the user. This can also be accompanied by an email with a link to the fictitious site. The victim is requested to give their card number, PIN and other identity information which is used to reproduce the card for use at an ATM.

Final Note to the Customer

Millions of ATM transactions are successfully carried out every day around the world without problems or interference by criminals and fraudsters. Only a tiny fraction of criminal incidents occur at ATMs in comparison to the huge volume of usage at the more than 1,2 million ATMs worldwide. However, we, the ATM industry, are committed to removing all crime from the industry (or as much as is humanly possible)! And you can help us achieve that.