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Tips for protecting and using financial cards and ATMs

Security precautions for using ATM machines and tips for avoiding credit card fraud.

Person's hands entering a PIN at an ATM

The convenience of modern banking is no excuse to be careless with your credit and debit cards, which thieves can use for both financial theft and identity theft.

Here are a few tips to help you keep all your cards secure, as well as some pointers about protecting yourself, and your identity, when using ATMs.

Financial cards

  • Always keep your credit and debit cards in a safe place; never leave your card lying around the house or on your desk at work. No one should have access to the card but you.
  • If your card is lost or stolen, notify your bank immediately. Many banks offer online resources to make reporting a lost card even easier.
  • If you use a check to pay your credit card bill, only include the last four digits of your card's account number on your check payment.


  • Keep your Personal Identification Number (PIN) a secret. Never share your PIN, even for the sake of convenience.
  • Change your PIN on a regular basis. Most banks allow you to easily change your PIN online or by phone.
  • If you must write down your PIN, do not keep it in your wallet, purse, or on the card itself.
  • When selecting a PIN, avoid numbers and letters that can be easily identified or associated with you. Do not use your initials, birth date, telephone number, or any part of the card number.
  • When using an ATM, do not allow others to see your PIN, what type of transaction you are making, or how much money you are withdrawing.

ATM transactions

  • Be wary of people trying to help you with ATM transactions. If you feel unsafe, or as though something is amiss, move on. It's usually not too difficult to find another ATM.
  • Always be ready for your transaction. Have your card ready as you approach the ATM. This will help you avoid spending time digging through your purse or your wallet.
  • Do not use an ATM that appears unusual looking or offers options with which you are not familiar or comfortable. Some scam artists actually plant unregistered ATMs in order to collect card numbers and PINs.
  • Avoid large cash withdrawals.
  • Do not count or display any money you received from the ATM.
  • Take all of your receipts with you.

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