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Are you vulnerable to theft or assault at a cash machine?

You may be like many who enjoy the convenience of going cashless. Even small purchases of a dollar or two are easier with a debit card, and you can keep track of your purchases when you check your bank statement. However, there are times when you need cash. When the bank is closed, you may have to use an ATM to access your cash. Unfortunately, this may mean placing yourself in harm's way.

Safety tips regarding the use of ATMs after hours often include ways to keep your PIN secure and watch for skimming devices that can rip you off. You hear advice to cover your PIN, check your balance and put your money away immediately. A more important precaution to consider, however, is your physical safety when you use an ATM.

Can you protect yourself?

When the bank is closed, you may be approaching the cash machine through a dark, empty parking lot. If the ATM is in a poorly lit and secluded place, you can be sure that predators will take advantage of this. High, thick shrubs can hide an attacker but give him or her a clear view of you standing alone with your head down typing in your code. Predators also know when the bank cameras are poorly placed so they can approach you without appearing on surveillance footage.

In Georgia, it is not uncommon for people to suffer injuries during assaults while using ATMs. Desperate people want the money you withdraw, and they may be willing to hurt you to get more from your account. There are precautions that can make you less vulnerable to attack or injury while using an ATM, including:

  • Never leave your vehicle open and running while you are in an ATM booth.
  • Never allow a stranger in the booth with you.
  • Bring someone with you to the ATM.
  • Try to avoid using cash machines at night.
  • Try to avoid ATMs you have never used before, especially at night.
  • If possible, use a drive-up ATM, and do not open your door to complete the transaction.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

Even if you take these precautions, the amount of protection you can provide yourself is limited if the banking institution does not provide a safe and secure place for you to bank after hours. An assault at an ATM can result in physical and emotional trauma, and you have the right to pursue justice if your bank did not take adequate steps to protect you.

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