Authorities in the UAE have been emphasizing safety when withdrawing money from ATMs given a recent spate of thefts. Criminals have been targeting bank customers as they leave ATMs after withdrawing cash. While this physical theft has been widely publicized, criminals that are more discerning use more sophisticated methods to steal PIN codes and debit card numbers to create copies of victims’ bank cards.

One strategy that has been employed in the UAE is to place cameras at the ATM to steal PIN codes, and then use a magnetic card with the same data as the bank customer’s debit card to withdraw cash from the ATM. There are a few tips you should use to protect yourself from becoming a victim:

The most basic measure is to never leave your receipt behind or to rip it up before throwing it away. Your account number or other valuable data from the receipt can be used to steal your identity or bank account information.

Always use one hand to shield the other when typing in your PIN. This will protect you against any cameras or individuals standing in line who may be trying to obtain your PIN code.

Skimming is a method where an electronic device is used to capture your card information. If you have any doubts that something is off with the card reader, avoid using the ATM.

In general, you should always be efficient when using an ATM. Don’t linger around and multitask when withdrawing cash or checking your balance, rather, focus on completing your transaction quickly.

It is surprising how many people store their PIN on their mobile phone, or keep it on a piece of paper in their wallet. Any outcome from this practice is likely to be a negative one.

One reason an ATM card is more secure than cash, is that if you lose it, your savings are still protected. However, this is only the case if you actually call your bank to report a stolen or lost debit card immediately. At a minimum, you can ask them to freeze it in case you recover it later.

Mobile alerts are offered as a complimentary service by most UAE banks, and fortunately they are extremely useful in notifying you immediately if your bank account has been compromised.

Lastly, if you have any doubts while using an ATM, whether it is regarding skimming devices, a suspicious camera or even strangers hanging around the machine, go withdraw money from somewhere else. While this may seem inconvenient, there are ATMs at every corner nowadays, and chances are you will find another one within a few minutes.

A common site in the UAE is to see the transaction receipt still in the ATM from the person who used it before you. Another one is the person who takes 5 minutes to withdraw cash because they are on their phone having a discussion with a friend. There are no real secrets for practicing safety when using an ATM, just make sure you always use common sense so as not to become a victim of a false sense of security.

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