Avoid being scammed at ATMs

By Drum Digital
26 January 2017

Incidents of people being robbed at ATMs seem to be on the increase, especially on payday when their cards get jammed or their money is withdrawn without their knowledge.

We spoke to Linda Mtiya, a victim of ATM crime who was at East Rand Mall and she decided to go and withdraw cash at the ATM. "I was using my husband's card to withdraw money. The guy who was at the ATM before me offered to help me when the card didn't come out. So I called my husband and told him to call the bank and tell them the card is gone. But he couldn't because he was busy. They’d withdrawn R5 000 on the other ATM though, after few days we went to the bank and explain what happened luckily the bank refunded us." she said.

Avoid being scammed at ATMs

ATM and ADT (automated deposit terminal) devices offer enhanced functionality and convenience to customers, allowing 24/7 transacting. But while ATMs are convenient, it’s important to remain vigilant at all times when transacting. Adopt safe banking habits such as protecting your card and cash from view and being aware of your surroundings.

Tips for protecting your ATM PIN

  • Keep your PIN confidential. Never share it with anyone, even friends and family, and don’t write it down.
  • Don’t make you PIN combination easy to guess – avoid using obvious combinations such as your birthdate.
  • When transacting, cover the keypad with your hand – scammers can place cameras to record your PIN as you punch it in.
  • Stand as close as possible to the ATM and never let anyone stand close or distract you while transacting.
  • Do not enter your PIN on a screen that’s unfamiliar to you. Carefully read the instructions on the screen before entering your PIN.

Tips for protecting your cash

  • Once cash has been withdrawn, place it out of sight immediately. Avoid handling cash in full view, and secure your wallet and handbag before leaving the ATM
  • Set a realistic daily limit on your account to protect yourself if your details are compromised.
  • Check your statements regularly and report suspicious transactions immediately. Rather use your debit card for purchases.
  • Be wary of strangers who call you back to the ATM to complete a transaction. They often ask for assistance or offer to assist you. Once you’ve completed your transaction, leave as soon as possible. If you’re disturbed while transacting at the ATM, your card may be skimmed by being removed and placed back into the slot without your knowledge. Cancel the transaction immediately.

Card cancellation

If your card has been stolen or you’ve lost it, cancel it at any ATM by following the prompts on screen:

  1. Select Lost/Stolen
  2. Select Card Cancellation
  3. Key in your ID number
  4. Key in the PIN for the last card you used and select Cancel Card
  5. Select the card/s you want to cancel and your reason for cancellation.


  • Never ask for help from strangers, even the security guard. If you’re unsure about something, cancel the transaction and visit a nearby branch for assistance.
  • Never force your card into the ATM. If the card isn’t easily accepted, the device may have been tampered with. Never use an ATM if it looks faulty.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings and be alert - look out for loiterers.

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