Why you should treat your ATM card like cash

Posted at 04/07/14 10:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are one of the greatest conveniences of modern life. The wide distribution of ATM’s today offers cardholders easy access to their bank accounts from just about anywhere and at anytime.

Some of us probably take it for granted but just 20 years ago, the concept of banking around the clock and using a machine for transactions made people uncomfortable. How technology has changed and continues to change our lifestyle.

But while it has its advantages, there are unscrupulous parties that prey on unsuspecting cardholders.

To help you guard against unauthorized and fraudulent use, we are here to share some useful things to remember.

1. Treat your ATM card like cash.

You don’t leave cash lying around do you? Then do the same for your ATM card. Don’t just hand it to anyone. Some regard their ATM cards as identification cards and would sometimes leave these with security guards at buildings or subdivision gates. Similarly, there are some money lenders who insist on getting your ATM card so they can collect your payment themselves. These are very unsafe practices. Your ATM card should be kept secure at all times.

Just as you wouldn’t entrust cash to a stranger, so should you not leave your ATM card to someone you don’t know. And in cases of loss? Report immediately and alert your bank so they can prevent any unauthorized use.

2. Your personal finances is a private matter so do your ATM transactions yourself.

You may be tempted to ask a friend to withdraw money for you, or your secretary or even the messenger, but don’t. Take pains to go to the ATM yourself and plan your day so that you will not be left without cash at the most inconvenient times.

3. Protect your PIN.

Banks warn you to make sure no one sees your hands or looks over your back while you are plugging your PIN into a machine. Also do not write down your PIN on the card itself, or on any sheet that you are keeping in your wallet. This way, if a thief gets your card or your wallet, he will not be able to use your ATM card right away, giving you sufficient time to inform your bank about the loss.

Another word of caution: you should not share your PIN with anyone. Some cases of fraud stem from the PIN being given by the account owner to a co-worker, a friend, even a family member.

4. Inspect ATM machines for any suspicious objects.

Skimmers attach devices that get your personal information and PIN so that they can create a duplicate card and dip into your account. If you have any doubt about what you see, ask the security guard about the device. If you have any doubt all, then do not use that machine.

5. Go to guarded ATM machines.

You wouldn’t want to take money out of a machine where everyone can see you leaving with cold cash in hand. Try to pre-identify the ATM sites that allow you the greatest privacy, such as those within bank premises or if you’re lucky enough, within your office building.

6. Be mindful when your ATM card is being used in other terminals.

If you use your card for point-of-sale transactions, such as in grocery stores and gas stations, watch the terminal where it is used. If the card is going to be taken away, insist on going with the clerk to wherever the machine is. This will allow you to see what they do with your card.

7. Stay on top of your account.

Some depositors rarely use their accounts and feel they do not need to view their statements. Some transact heavily so do not want to go through the trouble of verifying transactions. But you need to regularly check your balances as you are in the best position to know if something is amiss. Did you withdraw more than once that week? How about the incoming remittance from your relative – did it come through as expected? Go online if your bank has a website to stay on top of your money.

But all these security issues aside, ATMs offer services that can make banking, paying bills and shopping easier. As an extension of your wallet, you can maximize its features to make your financial life simpler with a little planning.


Grow Your Money is an editorial partnership between ABS-CBNnews.com and Citi Philippines to promote financial education and provide helpful information to Filipinos on how to better manage their personal finances.

Visit www.citibank.com.ph for more information.