Nov 2007


The end of the year is a time for festivities, but criminals are also licking their lips, waiting to pounce on unwary people. Before you travel or visit friends and family, take safety measures and protect your belongings. When drawing money, be wary of ATM criminals.


Mr Khuli, a 49-year-old factory worker, clearly remembers what happened to him last year. He just got his December bonus and really looked forward to spoiling his wife and children.

He went to the nearest ATM to draw money to buy them some goodies. He knew the area well and didn’t think anything bad could happen. When he put his card into the machine and entered his PIN, the machine returned the card. Then someone came to him from nowhere and offered help, but the card still didn’t work. The man advised Mr Khuli to report the problem at his bank, but the bank was already closed.

The next morning, he was first in the queue. He left his luggage with a street seller next to the entrance. When the bank assistant told him that all his money had been withdrawn, he nearly fainted. He stumbled outside to get his luggage, but the street seller was gone. He had been robbed of his money and his luggage.

Tips to avoid criminal activity at ATMs

  • Never give your card or your PIN to anyone, not even a bank official, security personnel or a police official.
  • Avoid ATMs in deserted places or late at night.
  • Avoid drawing money when you are alone.
  • If you feel unsafe at an ATM or if you distrust people hanging around, leave immediately and use another ATM.
  • Never write down your PIN or carry it anywhere near your ATM card. Memorize it and keep it a secret.
  • Keep telephone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards.

While using the ATM

  • Never accept any help from strangers or let a stranger touch your card.
  • Insert your card only when instructed to do so by the display screen.
  • Never force your card into the card slot.
  • Be sure no one is looking over your shoulder when you key in your PIN.
  • Cancel your card if the machine swallows it by calling the card stop number.

After the transaction

  • Make sure that the machine returns your card after you have drawn money.
  • Rather draw small amounts of money. Some banks can set your daily limit.
  • Do not count your money in front of the ATM.
  • Be watchful of people following you (on foot or in a car). If you think you are being followed, get yourself to the nearest public place as quickly as possible.

- South African Police Service

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