10 steps to ensure safety of your ATM/Debit/Credit Card usage

POSTED BY Jagoinvestor ON August 10, 2016 COMMENTS (58)

In the last 10-15 yrs, card usage has replaced cash transactions to a big level at least in urban India. We no longer go to banks to withdraw cash. Almost everyone prefers to pay by cards when we visit malls, grocery shops or when we fill petrol in our cars.

Increase in Card Frauds

While the ATM/Debit/Credit card usage has increased, so has the frauds related to the cards. Most of the time, card fraud happens due to negligence of the cardholder. In this post, I will talk about several things you should keep in mind which will safeguard you against fraud or any crime which can potentially happen. The things we talk about in this article will be for ATM cards, debit cards, credit cards, and even internet banking transactions.

atm safety tips

1. Destroy the CVV number on the back of the card

Once you have used your ATM card several times, it’s suggested to scratch the CVV number on the back of the card. Almost everyone will memorize the 3 digit CVV number once they have used it 5-10 times. You can also write down the CVV number in your mailbox and email it to yourself if you want to record it in someplace.

While this will not make you fully protected from fraud, but it will surely reduce the chances.

2. Change the PIN as soon as you receive the card

Once you receive your card for the first time, it’s suggested that you activate it asap and then change the PIN. Try to avoid keeping the PINs that resemble your birthday, Pincode or phone numbers. Make it a random number or some combination which you can relate to.

If you do not change your default PIN which the letter contains, it might happen that someone looks at it and misuses your card, given they have access to it. That’s the reason you should also destroy the old password document.

3. Activate SMS Alerts for any amount above ZERO

It’s suggested to activate the SMS and mail alerts for all transactions.

If you do not want any SMS for a specific amount like Rs 500 or Rs 1000, then you can set up the alerts above that amount, but make sure you do it. A lot of people who come from the old generation like our parents, uncles etc are new to these card payments and do not activate these features. Please do it for them

4. Keep the customer care number saved on the phone

It’s always a good idea to store your bank/card customer care numbers on your phone so that you can inform them about any fraud or issues as soon as they happen.

Imagine you lost your card and you are thinking – “Once I am back home, I will call customer care and share about this incident so that they can block my card”. This is not a great situation, because, within a few minutes, the who has the card can swipe it and use it (given he knows other details)

Better avoid being late in informing about the incident, because once the money gets debited from your account, then matter becomes complicated and you will spend lot of times in fixing the issue and following up

Prevention is better than cure …

5. Avoid using the ATM in night or places which are not safe

There have been instances where I wanted to withdraw cash from ATM around night-time, and my wife always tells me that we can always do it the next day in the morning because it’s better to avoid ATMs at night especially when it’s not an emergency.

I think that makes sense.

While, out of 100 times, 99 times nothing will happen. But then that one bad incident is what you want to avoid..


I am not saying that never use the ATM in the night, but as far as possible, try to refrain using your cards at night at lonely places, because you never know who is keeping an eye on you.

Here is a video from Bangalore, where a 38 yrs old lady was attacked by a guy inside the ATM. Something like this is very much possible to happen if you take things lightly at night when it’s lonely.

Hence, if are going back home in midnight and thinking of withdrawing cash from an ATM which is located on a lonely road, I suggest that you avoid it unless it’s emergency. It’s always safer to come back in the morning and withdraw the money from ATM.

6. Don’t let any once enter the ATM while you are using it

If there is only one single ATM machine inside the room, then don’t allow anyone to enter the ATM when you are using it. You can directly tell the person to enter the room once you have used it.

At times, People are not civilized enough to understand that ATM usage is a very private activity and they should not enter or look at your screen.

stop atm fraud

(Image Source)

7. Never leave an incomplete transaction

There are many ATM frauds which have happened because the person left without completing their transaction. You should never leave the ATM screen unless the “welcome screen” appears back.

There are cases, where the computer hangs in between the transaction either because of a technical issue or because someone had done some trick to it. Always press the cancel button once you are finished or sense that there is some issue.

Below is an excerpt from a report from Indian express which shares more details about keypad jamming fraud in ATMs.

Keypad jamming fraud

The risk department of the banks have termed it so because the modus operandi of defrauder involves jamming both the ‘Enter’ and ‘Cancel’ buttons on the ATM machine by applying glue or by inserting a pin or blade at the edge of the button. So when the customer tries to press the ‘Enter/OK’ button after entering his ATM PIN, the key does not function and the customer can’t proceed with his transaction. At this juncture the customer thinks that the machine is not working and tries to cancel the transaction, which also does not go through as that button is also jammed. Thinking that the transaction is cancelled, he leaves the ATM machine.

As soon as the customer leaves or is prompted to visit the nearby ATM machine, the fraudster takes over the machine and since the transaction is active for around 30 seconds in most cases (some banks have reduced it to 20 seconds), he keeps the transaction active by pressing some functional buttons and in the meantime removes the glue or pin from the ‘Enter’ button to go ahead with the transaction. The fraudster then withdraws the cash from the customer’s account, leaving the customer unaware of the fraud till he checks the message from the bank.

If your ATM screen is hanged or incase of any issues, make sure you contact the security guard or at least call the customer care while you are inside the ATM.

All ATMs have a CCTV machine and it will record your activity which will help you later in case of any problem or dispute. Here is a real-life case of how ATM fraud can happen from a fellow blogger BasuNivesh.

8. Never share your debit card PIN when you shop

When you go to Petrol Pumps to fill your car or while you are dining at restaurants, try to avoid sharing the ATM PIN while making the payments. A lot of people let others enter their PIN because they don’t want to walk all the way to the swipe machine.

I prefer to walk down and enter the PIN myself or ask them to bring the swipe machine near me.

While it surely adds to convenience by sharing the PIN, but it also exposes you to the risk of debit/credit card fraud. No one is stopping the person who has your card to note down your card number, expiry date, CVV number (most of the people don’t scratch it) and write down the PIN you shared with them. In some extreme cases, your card can be swiped to the skimming machine to steal the information and duplicate the card.

how debit and credit card skimming work

A lot of people think that just because someone has their card details, they are still secured because the OTP comes to their mobile or the 6 digits extra password is asked while doing a transaction online. However, they are mistaken.

While one will surely fail while doing the transactions in Indian websites, they will succeed while using the card on international websites, because OTP is not sent there. Also, that extra layer of 6 digit password is not asked while doing transactions at many websites outside India.

9. Never share your PIN, OTP, CVV and other sensitive details

My father in law is a senior citizen and despite being a bank employee for many years – I can clearly tell you that even he might fall prey to many online frauds related to banks because he is very new to these card payments and internet banking. He belongs to that old era and his banking is very different than today’s banking.

Like him, your parents, and grandparents and in-laws will surely be from the generation who does not understand very well how these online things work.

When they get a call from someone who says – “I am calling from Bank and …”, for them it’s a genuine call and they can’t tell a difference between fake call and a genuine one. And they are always on the list of fraudsters.

There are various online frauds going on these days, where a person poses as a bank employee and then scares the person on other end saying things like

  • “This is a verification call from the bank, please share the OTP which has just come on your mobile”
  • “You will now get a new card because the old one is canceled, please share the 3 digits on the back of the card to approve this”
  • “We notice that a 20,000 transaction has happened just now, did you do it? Please share an OTP which has come to your mobile to verify that you are the cardholder”

Listen to this YouTube conversation, where a girl is posing as SBI staff and trying to get information. Imagine if your parents or some senior citizen gets this kind of call, how will they react?

Here is a good FAQ related to fraud protection related to cards from ICICI bank

10. Don’t expose the cash withdrawn from ATM

I have done it a few times, and I now understand that it was a mistake.

When you take out cash from ATM, if it’s a big amount – many times a few people come out of ATM holding the bundle of cash without realizing that someone might be watching them.

It’s always suggested to keep a bag with you and put the cash inside it or at least keep the cash in your wallet or pocket till you reach your car or home. There might be many bad elements nearby and they will keep an eye on you. They might be behind you and later they may attack you. What they show in CRIME PETROL actually happens in real life too 🙂

Don’t Get Paranoid

While it’s suggested that you should be alert and careful while using your cards or internet banking, but I would like to also add that you should not become paranoid and start behaving like a maniac :). You should judge the situation and use your presence of mind when someone is really being helpful and when someone is trying to trick you.

Please share any other tips or suggestions which I have not added above.

58 replies on this article “10 steps to ensure safety of your ATM/Debit/Credit Card usage”

  1. sapan shah says:

    Sir, I regularly read your block, also I read your book, how to become your financial planner, I want to know, can I keep all my savings account (self, wife, and son) in one bank… It advisible to one bank concept is safe…Is IDBI bank is safe, because I want to keep all account are in this bank… Pls suggest me, my email I’d sapan_shah710@yahoo.com

    1. Yes it is safe to keep just one account. IDBI is safe

      1. sapan shah says:

        Thank you , sir, acutely I read. How to be your own financial planner in 10 step….this book is very useful to me.. First I clean up my insurance…I I don’t have any insurance, just have term plan,

        Also I have sip for different goal ,
        Also have contiguous fund….
        And I buy fundlmenttal good stock for long…
        Thank you sir,

        1. Term plan is INSURANCE 🙂

          1. sapan shah says:

            Yes sir, but instead of traditional policy I opt for term plan….for security of my family….

            1. sapan shah says:

              Sir, I follow the book exactly you written….

            2. YEs, its a good thing !


    if some one forces to withdraw cash from our atm then enter the pin in reverse(if pin is :1234 enter it as 4321) yo will get the cash. This will trigger an alarm at nearest police station too.

    1. Jagdish says:

      This is a hoax, This all started in 2006 when an e-mail chain letter hoax circulated that claimed a reverse PIN duress code system is in place universally as a security feature. Since then this hoax is in circulation on various social media platforms or forums despite time to time clarification by the concerned institutions .
      To counter this hoax, Wikipedia gives an interesting example.
      Suppose PIN is 5555 or 2112 and If such a security feature is in place or gets implemented….
      then what will happen as PIN and reverse PIN are same. Can some one withdraw money or at the instance of forced withdrawal of money can intimate the police ?

  3. Mithun says:

    Card skimming can be avoided if we upgrade the card to chip based ones, right?

  4. GetPost says:

    Well elaborated and precisely explained, Manish.

    Take some time for a write up on IMPS, It deserves your style of writing.

      1. GetPost says:

        This makes a perfect IMPS Reply !!

        1. Thanks for your comment GetPost

  5. Narsing says:

    Want to share an Fraud Experience..
    Once I went to my relatives place, at night around 11:50, my relative MR.X took my phone and ICICI debit card and he went out. He was not aware of my ATM Pin. He used my ICICI debit card and generated 3D Pin, got the OTP on my phone. Used the OTP to activiate 3D Pin. Used this 3D Pin for online fraud transactions. Cleaned up all messages from my phone and replaced everything(phone and debit card) in it’s original place and slept. I realized this after 1 week, when I saw the fraud transaction. I know he did it, but can’t confront him as he is a close relative. So kindly lock your Smartphone and be vigilant of how is seeing your smartphone

    1. Thanks for sharing that Narsing

  6. Zen says:

    One more useful post from Manish…

    Well I want to add one more point to the above list.

    If you have net banking account in SBI, then we have an option whether to enable or disable ATM for online transactions , international transaction and so on.

    If you don’t like then disable the right option so that your card cannot be used on some channels.

    1. Glad to know that Zen ..

  7. bemoneyaware says:

    Nice tips..simple and effective

  8. bemoneyaware says:

    Nice tips.. Simple and effective

  9. lakshmi says:

    Hi Manish…how abt the taxation on EPF withdrawal as per budget 2016..any updates?plz let us know

    1. There are no major changes !

  10. Hory says:

    This is what i do or can be done:

    1. I withdraw money only from the ATM exclusively for our office employees.
    2. I do not withdraw at night
    3. I do not keep high balances in the bank account. Keep minimal in it and transfer it to an account which does not have an internet banking.
    4. Hide the pin while typing.
    5. Carry cash. Cash pinches. Hurts before spending.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Hory

  11. Naveen says:

    Always nice articles sir. I want to share one ATM fraud happened with me but get secure.
    I went to ATM and withdrawal some money but process of ATM was 10 minute delay. I waited for 5 minute and press all cancel /clear button but nothing appears. Then i came out and suddenly my Mobile vibrate with a new message showing you have withdrawal some money. I entered back and wait for error message or money withdrawal msg. After 3 minute,i got my money coming out from ATM.
    After that i observed outside scenerio and found two men on bike ,watching carefully .may be they are those fraud maker.
    SMS alert same my money.

    1. Thanks for sharing that incident Naveen ! ..

    2. Umesh says:

      Thanks Naveen for sharing this incident.

  12. Naveen says:

    Sir,is it safe to use online mobile recharge and payment using FreeCharge,MobiKwik and Paytm ? These auto receive my OTP and process further and have all my card details saved.

    1. Yes, its safe . I am doing it from past 1 yrs !

  13. Amol says:

    Nice article, Manish.

    For sharing the article there is no option to share through Hangouts. Please look into the possibility of adding that option. Thanks.

    1. hmm.. yea , as of now its not there. Will try to add it !

  14. dipakgupta says:

    Nice,knowledgeable article

  15. Rajshankar says:

    Nice article Manish, I’m not sure whether if we press the ATM PIN in reverse digits( Ex: PIN is 1234) and you type as 4321 , the allert will go the police that there is some peril in the corresponding ATM Machine. thi rumour spread frequently and still i’m not sure whether this information is true . Please advise.

    1. No , that is not true . Its a myth

    2. ganesh says:

      simple, what about pin 2222 0110 ?

    3. Umesh says:

      Hi Rajshankar, I think its only myths. because I haven’t read about this on any professional blog nor on any banking site. I request all the readers to not spread this type of fake news. many things about such news cames on whats app on daily basis.

  16. BIju says:

    Day by day it is getting riskier to carry around or use online your credit card with huge limit. Fraudsters are coming up with more and more innovative ideas. Is there any physical wallet/ virtual card available where we can load the amount as needed and use for day to day activities ? Hope Manish will work on an article on this.

    1. Paytm and FREECHARGE can be used at many places these days !

      1. Biju says:

        Yes, But a physical wallet would have been more convenient. Dont know how safe Paytm and Freecharge are.

        1. Physical wallet means what? In that case you can do cash transaction.

    2. Anjan says:

      The best solution for the paranoid is to open a current account with debit card facility with the same bank that you already have an account with and keep only minimum amount in it equivalent to your daily expense. You can set standing instruction (or do it manually as per convenience) to transfer this minimum amount on a daily basis from your real account to this new dummy account. Now you can carry around this debit card everywhere or use it online. If it gets stolen or you get defrauded, you haven’t lost much.

  17. ganesh says:

    Dear sir, i think you not heard about the fraudsters laid hand on the OTP also, one such case reported in Bangalore ; the fraudster obtained the duplicate sim of the account holder and transferd the money by getting new OPP to his new sim. acount holder not aware of this, his sim is not working due to network problem. but here it is network providers negligence

    1. Yes, I am aware about incidents like these 🙂 . Thanks for sharing that here

  18. BhanuPratapSingh says:

    Very Nice Article, Thank you Manish !!

    1. Thanks for your comment BhanuPratapSingh

  19. ajita says:

    Nice article Manish. Can you tell us what to do when fake currency notes come out of ATM machine? If you inform bank they will refuse to accept that the note has come out of their ATM machine. Police will only harras you more. You will lost your money and also face harassment from both bank and police. What steps we can take in such circumstances?

    1. thats not the case, if you mention to bank about it, they will check it using the serial number and confirm if it came from their ATM machine or not .


  20. Jeevan says:

    One more point.

    Sign up for both, email as-well-as SMS alerts on your account.

    Because a fraudster may know your cell number and provider, Approach the provider with fake documents and put in a complaint to get a replacement sim. If the provider does issue a replacement SIM and activates it – without you suspecting anything ….. all future OTP alerts will go to the replacement-SIM and will not reach you.

    By signing up for email alerts, your bank will at least warn you by email (that you had requested for OTP) – unless you block or filter out such emails.


    1. Yea , I think its always a safe idea to have both email + sms reminder. Nothing to loose anyways 🙂


  21. PrafullDeshpande says:

    or we can put CVV no as ATM pin to remember it.
    Nice info…

    1. Nice, thats a good one 🙂

    2. Anand says:

      CVV is 3-digit whereas ATM PIN is 4-digit.

      1. Prafull says:

        we can add zero before it… ha ha ha

        1. Sunil says:

          Nice article again & Mr Prafull very good Idea.

          1. Thanks for your comment Sunil

    3. Amol says:

      Nice info Manish. Thanks a lot.
      Prafull – Nice idea.

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