The internet can often quickly spread "urban myth" stories but few stories gain such rapid appeal with so many potentially negative impacts on cardholder safety and confidence as the misleading stories circulating the internet regarding PIN reversal to signal duress. PIN reversal technology is a concept based upon the possibility that a cardholder could remember (and reverse) his or her PIN at an ATM to draw attention to a dangerous situation like a kidnapping or a robbery. Critics say that it is unlikely that anyone under duress could successfully employ this technique without compromising personal safety.

Financial institutions within the United States including LA Fianancial Credit Union have not deployed this technique despite several well circulated email chain letters that have misstated this fact.

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 entering 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, withdraw your card and proceed to another ATM. Report 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.



ATM Safety Tips
  • Utilize an ATM located inside an open business whenever possible.
  • Avoid using street ATMs during night time hours.
  • Always be aware of suspicious persons or vehicles in the area of the ATM. Trust your gut feeling. If things don't feel right, avoid that ATM.
  • Have ATM card out of your wallet or purse before approaching the ATM.
  • Don't write your ATM personal identification number on your card or keep the number in your wallet.
  • When entering your personal identification number, try to keep the numbers from the view of others.
  • Don't withdraw large amounts of cash.
  • Secure your money at the ATM. Don't walk away with money in hand.
  • Always take your receipt with you.
  • If a robber demands your money, don't argue or fight with the suspect. Note the robbers description and give the robber the money.
  • Get away as soon as it is safe to do so. Remember the money is not worth getting hurt over.
  • Report all robberies to police as soon as possible by calling 911.

Keep Your Card Secure

Treat your ATM card like cash. Always keep your card in a safe place.

Keep your "secret code" a secret.

Your plastic card will work only with your personal identification number (PIN). When choosing your PIN, don't use dates of birth, parts of your social security number, addresses or phone numbers. Memorize your code. Never write it on your card or store it with the card. Never tell your code to anyone. And never let someone else enter your codes for you.

Take your receipt with you. Do not leave it at or near the ATM.
Verify each transaction by checking the receipts against your monthly account statements to guard against ATM fraud. Do not give out any information about your plastic card over the telephone. No one needs to know your secret code. Not even your financial institution. Report a lost or stolen card at once. Promptly report a lost or stolen card to reduce the chance that it will be used improperly.

Security At Drive-Up ATMs

Keep the doors locked, windows up and engine running at all times when waiting in line at a drive-up ATM. When possible, leave enough room between cars to allow for a quick exit should it become necessary.

If an ATM is obstructed from view or poorly lit, go to another ATM. If possible, report the problem to the financial institution that operates the ATM. Before rolling down the window to use an ATM, observe the entire surrounding area. If anyone or anything appears to be suspicious, drive away at once. Minimize time spent at the ATM by having your card out and ready to use. Once your transaction is completed, take your money, card and receipt and immediately drive away from the terminal. While conducting a transaction, if anyone or anything appears suspicious, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. If anyone follows you after making your ATM transaction, go immediately to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police. If the ATM looks different or appears to have any attachments over the card slot or PIN pad, do not use the ATM and if possible, contact the financial institution.

Security At Walk-Up ATMs

Always observe your surroundings before conducting an ATM transaction. If you drive to an ATM, park as close as possible to the terminal. Observe the entire area from the safety of your car before getting out. If anyone or anything appears to be suspicious, leave the area at once.

If an ATM is obstructed from view or poorly lit, go to another ATM. If possible, report the problem to the financial institution that operates the ATM. It's a good idea to take a companion along when using an ATM, especially at night. Minimize time spent at the ATM by having you card out and ready to use. Do not let anyone see how much money you withdrew and never count your money while at the ATM. Never allow a stranger to assist you in conducting an ATM transaction even if you have trouble or if your card is stuck. Stand between the ATM and anyone waiting to use the terminal so that others cannot see your secret code or transaction amount. Once you have completed your transaction, take your money, card, and receipt and immediately move away from the terminal. If you see anyone or anything suspicious while conducting a transaction, cancel your transaction and leave immediately. If anyone follows you after making an ATM transaction, go immediately to a crowded, well-lit area and call the police. Look for possible fraudulent devices attached to the ATM. If the ATM looks different or appears to have any attachments over the card slot or PIN pad, do not use the ATM and if possible, contact the financial institution.

Following these guidelines can improve your security whenever you use an ATM. If you have questions about ATM security, please give us a call.