The ATM is one of the most convenient ways of banking made available to bank customers by the banks. This innovative service mechanism provides bank customers with the ability to conduct their banking 24 hours a day at any ATM nationally.

When you bank at any banking institution’s ATMs across South Africa, you need to ensure that you are vigilant and aware of your surroundings when approaching the ATM and when you are busy transacting so that you don’t become a victim of crime or fraud.

ATM Hoax

We’ve all received those emails that offer advice from fictitious policemen warning about one conspiracy or another. This is no different in terms of banking, ATMs and keeping your money safe.

There has been an email doing the rounds claiming that all ATMs have the emergency alert function that if you are held up, you can simply punch your PIN in reverse and this will alert the police.


Please be aware that this information is false and there isn’t an ATM in the world that offers this service or has this functionality. If you try this, you’ll literally be giving your PIN to the criminals who’ll be watching you enter your PIN backwards.


When approaching an ATM

When approaching the ATM and it has been damaged, report to 10111 immediately in the following cases:

  • If an ATM has been damaged or if any unknown items protrude from it,
  • If smoke or flames are visible at or in the machine as this is a sure sign of a pending explosion. (Also move away from the ATM immediately),
  • In case of suspicious activity/persons at or near an ATM.



When using an ATM

  • Look around and observe your surroundings – if the machine is poorly lit, or is in a hidden area, use another ATM.
  • Choose an ATM that is located indoors, such as in a supermarket, petrol station or your local pub where the chances of the ATM being tampered with are greatly reduced due to the machine being in the constant view of employees or security guards.
  • Have your card ready – avoid having to go through your wallet or purse to find your card.
  • Never accept an offer from a stranger to help you with your transaction.
  • When keying in your Personal Identification Number (PIN) ensure you effectively shield the keypad and screen with your body to avoid the prying eyes of criminals.  Always memorise your PIN – do not write it down on paper or on your hand. Make sure that anyone waiting to use the ATM after you cannot see your transaction.
  • Be alert and watch that no one steals your card when you turn your back.
  • Don’t count your cash while standing at the ATM – put your cash, card, and receipt away immediately.
  • Cancel your transaction and leave immediately if you see anything suspicious. Confirm, as soon as possible, with your financial institution that the transaction was canceled.
  • Lock the car doors and roll up the other windows when you use a drive-through ATM.
  • Do not leave your keys or valuables in the car when using an ATM – and do not leave your car engine running.
  • Do not leave your receipt behind – take it with you. Compare your ATM receipts with your monthly statement. It is the best way to guard against unauthorized use of your card, and it makes record keeping easier for you.
  • If you’ve lost your ATM card, contact the financial institution that issued your card immediately.
  • If your ATM card is withheld by the machine, approach the bank to release it, or call the helpline number that can be found at the ATM.
  • Some fraudsters wait until you’ve drawn your cash to take advantage. Be wary of people loitering around the ATM and ensure that you are not followed.
  • Take your time to complete your transaction and secure your card and your cash in your wallet, handbag or pocket before leaving the ATM.
  • Set a daily withdrawal limit that suits your needs (the default amount is set at R1000.00), to protect yourself in an event that your card and PIN are compromised.
  • Check your balance regularly and report discrepancies to your Bank immediately.
  • After you have completed your transaction successfully, leave the ATM area immediately. Be cautious of strangers requesting you to return to the ATM to finalise/close the transaction because they are unable to transact. Skimming may occur during this request.
  • If someone approaches you following an ATM transaction demanding your money or valuables rather comply and report the incident to the nearest police station.


Card Skimming Theft

Card Skimming or card cloning uses a Card Skimming device to fraudulently copy bank customer details stored on the magnetic strip (brown/black strip at the back) on a debit or credit card. Whenever you present your card for payment you run the risk of being skimmed. However, the majority of skimming incidents in South Africa are recorded around ATMs and, to a lesser extent, at retail merchants when bank cards are presented for payments. The customer and card information stolen with skimming devices is often used to manufacture counterfeit (duplicate) cards which criminals use to make fraudulent transactions on a victim’s account.


cardskimmerCustomers should never use ATMs that seem damaged or tampered with because this creates opportunity for card fraudsters to take advantage:

  • When a customer is confronted with an ATM that is damaged or tampered with, the perpetrator will approach the customer and use social engineering tactics to take the customer’s ATM card. The customer is often escorted to another ATM in order to assist the customer to make a withdrawal.

The card is then secretively skimmed on the way to the second ATM with a hand held skimming device. The victim is handed back their card without noticing that it has been skimmed.

The interaction between the perpetrator and the customer creates trust and the perpetrator often stands next to the customer while the transaction is conducted.

The perpetrator will memorise the customer’s PIN when it is keyed in. The unsuspecting customer will only realise they have fallen victim to a scam when money is withdrawn from their account.


Don’t worry when your card goes in to the ATM card slot slowly. This is a precautionary measure that stops fraudsters from inserting other objects into the ATM slot. Some banks such as ABSA uses a unique anti card skimming software called Jitter, which sends a disrupted signal to any illegal skimming device, which prohibits the copying of data from banking cards and makes skimming impossible.



Lost/Stolen Card Contact Numbers

Banks-in-south-africaABSA: 0800 111 155

AFRICAN BANK: 0861 000 555

ALBARAKA BANK: 0860 225 786

BANK OF ATHENS: 011 833 2117

BIDVEST BANK: 0860 111 177

CAPITEC BANK: 0860 102 043


INVESTEC BANK: 011 286 9663

MERCANTILE BANK: 0860 119 925

NEDBANK: 0800 110 929

STANDARD BANK: 0800 020 600

SASFIN: 080 23 23 23 6

SA POST OFFICE (POST BANK): 0800 535 455



Leave a reply