Of­fi­cials en­cour­age hol­i­day ATM safety

Well-lit, busy ATMs best choices

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - By Tyler Smith

With shop­ping sea­son in full swing, law en­force­ment of­fi­cials are en­cour­ag­ing peo­ple to be cau­tious when us­ing ATM ma­chines.

“We haven’t had prob­lems in New­ton County, but ATMs are al­ways a place of po­ten­tial dan­ger,” said New­ton County Sher­iff’s Of­fice Lt. Bill Wat­ter­son. “Any time money is in the open like that, it can be dan­ger­ous.”

Be­fore be­gin­ning a trans­ac­tion, peo­ple should be aware of their en­vi­ron­ment and those around them.

“Al­ways look at your sur­round­ings,” Wat­ter­son said. “You want to make sure no one is stand­ing around. It’s also best if the place is well lit.”

The ATM should be avoided late at night when there is lit­tle traf­fic and no one around.

“Go to an­other ATM if you feel un­easy,” Wat­ter­son said. “You have to make that de­ci­sion. There is no guar­an­tee with any­thing like that.”

Wat­ter­son said ATMs inside are in­her­ently safer than those out­side.

“An ATM in Wal-Mart or a gro­cery store will be bet­ter lit,” Wat­ter­son said. “And there will be more peo­ple around so it’s less likely any­thing will hap­pen.”

When us­ing an out­side ATM, Wat­ter­son said a cell phone should be within reach.

“Make sure you have your cell phone handy,” Wat­ter­son said. “Be ready to call us if you feel like any­thing is wrong.”

If a per­son feels threat­ened, there is al­ways the op­tion of just driv­ing away.

“If they don’t have a gun, you have the abil­ity to drive off,” Wat­ter­son said.

“If some­one walks up while you are in your car and you feel threat­ened, just hit the can­cel but­ton and drive away. They have to have both your card and your pin num­ber, so they can’t do much with just the card if you leave it.”

If all th­ese safety mea­sures fail and a per­son is at­tacked, the best thing to do is just co­op­er­ate.

“Don’t re­sist,” Wat­ter­son said. “Just do what ever they say to do.”

When us­ing an ATM ma­chine of any kind, Wat­ter­son sug­gests in­spect­ing the ma­chine care­fully and never to heed any sign taped onto the ma­chine which says to process the trans­ac­tion dif­fer­ently. “Peo­ple should al­ways look at the card reader,” Wat­ter­son said. “They have an ex­tra layer which can read your card and steal your in­for­ma­tion.”

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