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During the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is meant to keep us healthy by maintaining physical distance from each other. Banks, however, are doing their part to keep us safe while making sure we have access to our money.

While many banks have closed their branch lobbies, you can still take care of financial business via ATMs and drive-through lanes. You also have safe, secure, 24/7 access to your accounts through online and mobile banking. And you can meet with a personal banker in person at some institutions, including KeyBank, which is serving clients by appointment at most branches.

If you’re making use of ATMs, now is a good time to be reminded of how to keep your money safe while doing so.

Most ATMs prompt you to discreetly enter your PIN, but there’s more to ATM security than shielding your digits from passersby. New technology is making it easier for thieves to steal your personal information – and harder for you to detect it.

By keeping these four tips in mind, you can still benefit from the convenience of ATMs, while keeping your data safe.

1. Choose the Right ATM

While your best bet is to use a familiar ATM attached to a bank during hours in which it’s open, many times you may not have that option, especially when you’re traveling. But you can choose which ATM you use.

Opt for locations that are visible – and with people around who can serve as witnesses should anything happen. Look for ATMs monitored by surveillance devices or a security officer. At night, choose a well-lit location and, when possible, have someone go with you. If you drive to the ATM, lock your car doors and monitor your surroundings.

Locations that require you to swipe an ATM card to enter are a safer choice than on-street ATMs that are accessible to any passersby.

2. Check for Skimmers

Given that many ATMs have cameras installed to deter people from tampering with the machine or harassing customers, thieves have taken to installing an attachment on top of the existing card slot. These devices, called skimmers, read your card number and often appear as though they’re part of the machine.

If the card reader covers the arrow showing you where to insert your card, it may have a skimmer attached. Jiggle the reader. If it’s loose, consider using a different machine.

3. Keep Your PIN Safe

Shielding your PIN from passersby is only one of several precautions you need to take to keep your number safe. Using your hand to shield your PIN can also protect it from small, hidden cameras. Check for fake keypads, too. If the keypad is raised up more than usual, consider going elsewhere.

You’ll also want to change how you enter your PIN. Thermal-imaging devices, including those that attach to a smartphone, make it easy for someone to know which buttons you hit even after you’ve walked away from the machine. Instead of hitting only your PIN, rest your hand on all of the keys. This will make it harder for thermal-imaging to detect your PIN.

4. Go in Prepared

Have your card ready. Digging through your wallet or purse can easily distract you from your surroundings – especially if you’re heading to an ATM for a longer transaction, such as depositing money. If the ATM you use still requires deposit envelopes, keep extras on hand so that you can quickly make your transaction and leave.

Make sure your transaction is complete by waiting for the welcome screen to appear. Be sure that you’ve removed your card and receipt.

If you want to double-check that your deposit was accurate or that you received the right amount of cash, count your money and check your slips after you’ve left the ATM. Always dispose of your receipts at home.

This information and recommendations contained herein are compiled from sources deemed reliable, but are not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or are offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third-party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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