Banks work hard to provide a safe environment for their customers who visit ABMs (automated banking machines) to do their banking and typically locate these machines in branch vestibules or high traffic locations. There are also simple steps you can take to stay safe while conducting your transactions. Here are some tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly while using an ABM at night, early in the morning or when there are few people around.
  • If you feel at all uncomfortable about using an ABM for any reason, it’s best to delay using the ABM until another time or go somewhere else.
  • Be discreet when counting your cash in view of others.
  • Call local police if you notice any suspicious activity at or near the ABM.

Robberies at ABMs are rare

Customer robberies at ABMs are rare in Canada, but as with any type of robbery, a customer’s safety is the number one concern. Here are a few additional security tips to keep in mind:

  • If a robber forces you to reveal your personal identification number (PIN) to get money from your account, it’s best to co-operate rather than put yourself in danger.
  • If you're coerced into giving your PIN, then typically you will get your money back from your financial institution.

Urban myth about reverse PINs

It’s also important to beware of an “urban myth” that is currently circulating on the Internet that recommends entering your PIN backwards if you are being robbed at an ABM to alert police. This information is completely false. Instead, it is best to co-operate with robbers to ensure your safety and then to contact police immediately. The banks have security monitoring systems in place and can often assist police in their investigations of this type of robbery.

ABM receipts

If you’re worried that your ABM receipt may contain sensitive personal information, don’t be. Most banks block out most of the debit and credit card numbers for ABM-issued receipts so even if someone else had one of your receipts, they could not get your debit or credit card number.

It’s also important to understand that the number that appears on the front of your debit card is your debit card number, not your bank account number. Criminals would need additional information as well as your secret PIN to create a fraudulent debit card.