What is an atm?

What is an Automated Teller Machine (ATM)?
ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine. It’s a specialized computer that makes it convenient to manage your money. For example, almost all ATMs allow you to withdraw money, and many allow you to make deposits. At some ATMs, you can print a statement (a record of your account activity or transactions); check your account balances (the amount of money in your accounts right now); transfer money between your accounts; and even purchase stamps. You can usually access the most services at an ATM that’s operated by your own bank.

Why use ATMs?
ATMs are a safe and convenient way to manage your money. There are millions of ATMs worldwide and you can use many ATMs 24 hours a day, 7 days week. Some allow you to select the language you want to use.

Is there a fee for using an ATM?
Check with your bank to see if they charge any ATM fees to customers. Usually there isn’t a fee to use one of your banks ATMs but almost all banks do charge a fee to non-customers who use their ATMs. Keep in mind that even though using an ATM may cost you money, it’s typically less expensive than using a check cashing service.

How do you use an ATM?
To operate an ATM, you insert an ATM or debit card and enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Your PIN is a secret password that you create.

Then, follow the onscreen directions and select the banking service you require (deposit, withdrawal, transfer funds, etc.).

icon of an atm

atm security tips

Because most ATMs give out cash and many accept deposits, it makes sense to be alert and aware of your surroundings whenever you use an ATM. Here are some personal safety tips when using an ATM:

  • Avoid using an ATM in out-of-the-way or deserted areas. Use ATMs located inside banks or supermarkets where other people are around. Use ATMs in well-lit, public areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when withdrawing funds. If your notice anything out of the ordinary, come back later or use another ATM.
  • If it looks like someone has tampered with the ATM equipment, don’t use it. (This could mean that a criminal has attached a “skimmer” to the ATM to steal your financial information.) If a suspicious person offers to help you use the ATM, refuse and leave.
  • When typing in your pin, cover the keypad so others can’t see.
  • After completing your transaction, remember to remove your card, cash and any printed documents such as receipts or statements.
  • Put your money and ATM card away before you leave the ATM. Always avoid showing your cash. Always verify that the amount you withdrew or deposited matches the amount printed on your receipt.
  • Take your receipts with you so potential criminals will not know how much you withdrew or how much money is in your account.
  • When using a drive-up ATM, keep your car doors locked and your engine running.

Here are some additional tips for taking care of your ATM card, PIN, and receipts:

  • Report a lost or stolen ATM card immediately to the financial institution that issued you the card.
  • Don’t leave your card in your car.
  • Don’t lend your cards — credit, debit, or ATM — to anyone. You are responsible for their use. Don’t let your cards be used by others, even family and friends.
  • Choose a PIN that is easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess. Don’t use any numbers or words that appear in your wallet (name, birth date, phone number, etc.)
  • Never write down your personal identification number (PIN) — memorize it. If your wallet or purse is stolen, someone else could have access to your money.
  • Never tell anyone your PIN. No one from a financial institution, the police, or a merchant should ask for your PIN. You are the only person who needs to know it.
  • When selecting a PIN, avoid picking a number that is easy for others to guess — for example, your name, telephone number, date of birth, or any simple combination of these.
  • Always keep copies of your ATM receipts. Record your transactions in your transaction register. Compare your receipts and register to your monthly account statement. Then shred or destroy your ATM receipts before you throw them away.
  • If you receive a replacement card, destroy your old card. Destroy cards for cancelled accounts.

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