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When shopping or grabbing a bite to eat, many people prefer to pay using their debit or credit cards. But when you want cash on-hand, or a place doesn’t accept plastic, automatic teller machines (ATM) still offer an easy way for you to get money fast.

Because ATMs are public and visible, though, it pays to be careful when making a transaction. The Connecticut Department of Banking, a state agency, offers safety tips that could help keep you and your money secure while using an ATM almost anywhere:

Stay Alert. If an ATM is housed in an enclosed area, shut the entry door completely behind you. If you drive up to an ATM, keep your car doors locked and an eye on your surroundings. If you feel uneasy or sense something may be wrong while you’re at an ATM, particularly at night or when you’re alone, leave the area.

Keep Your PIN Confidential. Memorize your personal identification number (PIN); don’t write it on your card or leave it in your wallet or purse. Keep your number to yourself. Never provide your PIN over the telephone, even if a caller claims to be a bank employee or police officer. Neither person would call you to obtain your number.

Conduct Transactions in Private. Stay squarely in front of the ATM when completing your transaction so people waiting behind you won’t have an opportunity to see your PIN being entered or to view any account information. Similarly, fill out your deposit/withdrawal slips privately.

Don’t Flash Your Cash. If you must count your money, do it at the ATM, and place your cash into your wallet or purse before stepping away. Avoid making excessively large withdrawals. If you think you’re being followed as you leave the ATM, go to a public area near other people and, if necessary, ask for help.

Save Receipts. Your ATM receipts provide a record of your transactions that you can later reconcile with your monthly bank statement. If you notice any discrepancies on your statement, contact your bank as soon as possible. Leaving receipts at an ATM can also let others know how much money you’ve withdrawn and how much you have in your account.

Guard Your Card. Don’t lend your card or provide your PIN to others, and never discuss your bank account with friendly strangers. If your card is lost or stolen, contact your bank immediately.

ATMs are a convenient and generally secure way to get some cash. By keeping these tips in mind when making a transaction, you can further protect yourself and your funds!

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