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Stop ATM Criminals in Their Tracks with These Tips

Updated: May 18

Criminals are always seeking ways to steal money and because ATMs are essentially ‘money machines’ they are a prime target. To prevent your retail ATM from being compromised it’s important to understand what tactics criminals use and what steps can be taken to keep it safe.

In this blog we’ll discuss the primary types of attacks criminals use and steps that can be taken to prevent or at least minimize risks.

Physical Attacks

In the U.S., physical attacks are the most common type of ATM crime. Physical attacks typically include theft of the ATM or damaging the fascia or cabinet to access the cash inside the machine.

To prevent this type of attack, ATM USA recommends the ATM be:

  • Installed away from glass doors and windows, which can be easily accessed from outside.

  • Bolted to the ground using the manufacturer’s recommended hardware.

  • Installed in an area where staff can keep an eye on the machine – not tucked away in a back corner, out sight.

  • Monitored with either a store camera or a camera on the machine.

  • Inspected regularly to ensure it’s not been damaged, or tools have not been left near the ATM for easy access when the criminal returns.

These tactics can help prevent the most common types of physical attacks with precautionary steps to secure the machine and discourage criminals from targeting it.

Cash In Transit Attacks

Merchants that own and operate their own ATM are extremely vulnerable when filling the machine with cash. While cash in transit attacks, which are defined as a robbery prior to or while the ATM is being loaded with cash, have been seen mostly at drive through banking locations in the U.S., it is important to take precautions anytime cash is added to an ATM.

To keep staff safe and prevent these types of crimes, we recommend:

  • Loading cash while the location is closed or, if that is not possible, when there are very few customers on-site.

  • Being aware of the surroundings during the entire cash loading process.

  • Alternating days and hours when cash is replenished.

  • Not loading cash alone. Two employees at the ATM while it is being filled discourages criminal behavior.

Fraud Attacks

While physical attacks are the most common in the U.S., as criminal gangs become more sophisticated and it becomes easier and cheaper to obtain technology, we’re slowly seeing a rise in fraud incidents.

The most common types of fraud attacks involve tampering with the ATM in some way to steal card data or PIN information, which thieves then use to compromise a consumer’s bank account. Or taking advantage of ATM vulnerabilities if the software and hardware have not been updated to the latest security standards to jackpot the machine, which results in the ATM dispensing all the cash out of the machine.

To prevent these types of attacks, ATM USA recommends ATM owners:

  • Keep the ATM software up to date.

  • Ensure the ATM has the latest security configuration and communications programming.

  • Do not give out ATM passwords or keys to staff, who do not have the responsibility of loading the machine with cash or performing first line maintenance.

  • Use third-party monitoring of the ATM’s electronic activities to watch for fraud attempts.

  • Listen to customer concerns about unusual behavior about the ATM.

  • Watch for and question individuals spending ‘too much time’ near the machine.

If you have any concerns about the ATM installed in your location, are not sure if the machine is as secure as it should be or need assistance loading software, contact the ATM USA technical support team. We’re here to help!


ATM USA Technical Support



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