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ATM & Debit Card Safety Tips

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Technology offers convenience, but it doesn’t replace common sense. These habits can keep you and your money safe while you’re using an ATM or Debit card.
For a list of Berkshire Bank ATMs, branch locations and hours, click here.

1. Protect your PIN (Personal Identification Number)
  • Choose a PIN that is unique. Use a number other than your birthday, Social Security number or other obvious number.
  • Do not share your PIN or account number with anyone.
  • If you do share a card with family members, like your children, impress upon them that they must memorize the PIN and NEVER divulge it to anyone outside the family.
  • Never give your PIN over the phone, especially cell phones.

2. Check out the environment as you approach the ATM.
  • Avoid facilities in dark or remote places.
  • Avoid free standing ATMs on street corners. It is best to use an ATM machine at a financial institution.
  • If bystanders seem to be loitering rather than conducting business, go to another machine or come back later.
  • If someone seems to take interest in you or your transaction, report suspicious behavior to the police – but leave the area first.
  • When using a drive-through ATM, keep all doors locked and all windows up, except for the driver’s window.

3. Examine the ATM before you use it.
  • Never enter your PIN in any terminal that does not look genuine, has been modified, has a suspicious device attached, or is operating in a suspicious manner. See below for ATM Scams.

4. Be prepared to conduct your transaction when you approach the ATM.
  • Have your card ready and know what transaction or transactions you want to conduct.
  • Shield the screen and keypad with your body as you use the ATM to prevent others from seeing your PIN.
  • Remove your cash, receipt and card after every transaction. Never leave receipts behind at the ATM.
  • Have any deposits prepared before you approach the ATM. Make sure the ATM envelope has been accepted before leaving.

5. Pay attention to activity around the ATM as you leave.
  • Secure any cash you withdraw before leaving the machine.

6. Report lost, stolen, or compromised cards IMMEDIATELY!
  • If you believe that your card and/or PIN has been lost, stolen, compromised, or that someone has transferred or may transfer money from your account without your permission, call 800-773-5601.
  • Examine your statements promptly to identify unauthorized transactions.

ATM Scams

ATM Rigging
  • At first glance, it appears that the individual is simply performing a simple ATM transaction.
  • What he is in fact doing is rigging the slot on the machine so as to capture the card of the next person who uses the ATM.
  • Rigging the machine is very risky business therefore the services of a "lookout" is required in order to warn of possible witnesses and/or potential victims.
  • Once the "trap" has been set the next customer arrives and inserts his card and attempts a transaction.
  • The card has been captured and the customer is confused as to why this is so.
  • The fraudster arrives on the scene pretending to render assistance. What he is in fact trying to do is obtain the customer's PIN now that he has captured the card.
  • He convinces the customer that he would be able to retrieve his card if he entered his PIN while he holds down both the "cancel" and the "enter" buttons.
  • After several attempts the customer is convinced that the machine has captured his card. Both he and the fraudster leave the ATM.
  • Satisfied that the coast is clear, the fraudster returns to retrieve the card that has been captured by his trap. He not only has the customers’ card, he also has his PIN.
  • Armed with card and PIN the fraudster can withdraw money from the victim’s account.

ATM Skimmers
  • The suspect places a "skimmer" or a small device over the card slot, which records the magnetic strip as the legitimate card passes through.
  • A small camera is affixed to the ATM facing the keypad which video records the PIN number as the customer enters it.
  • The camera transmits the video to a receiver, which is generally left in a vehicle nearby.
  • Once the data has been collected, counterfeit cards (which often do NOT look like legitimate ATM cards) are generated and the suspect will go to an ATM and withdraw as much money as they can.

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