The most spectacular errors occur when ATMs dispense cash to anyone who walks by, including those without money in their accounts or even without accounts.
A couple of times a year, news reports tell of crowds gathering around ATMs that mistakenly begin spewing bills. In 2010, the Bank of Ireland’s ATMs dispensed more cash to customers than they actually had in their accounts, according to the New York Times. One taxi driver with nothing in the bank walked away with huge amount of cash.
How often does it happen? Diebold Incorporated, a leading maker of ATMs, based in North Canton, Ohio, United States, does not keep records of how many mistakes its machines make, the company says. A representative there says only that mistakes are rare.
However, mistakes do happen, says James Trocme, senior director of market research and knowledge management at Diebold. While they don’t know how often they happen, mistakes by the machines can usually be traced to some form of human error. Poor maintenance practices, especially, can lead to ATM foul-ups, Trocme says.
Although no one in the industry seems to know how often mistakes occur, they generally agree about what to do to avoid being victimised by a rogue ATM, according to www.bankrate.com.
1. Always get a printed receipt. The receipt contains important information such as the transaction date, time and the machine identifier, says Nessa Feddis, senior counsel for American Bankers Association based in Washington, D.C. Among other things, this will allow the ATM owner to check the photographic record that is often made of transactions.
2. Count your cash. John Prendergast, vice president of supervision for Conference of State Bank Supervisors, an advocacy group composed of state banking regulators based in Washington, D.C., acknowledges that safety concerns may sometimes preclude openly counting a fat stack of $20 bills.
“You need to be cognizant of your surroundings, particularly if there is anyone behind you waiting for the ATM,” Prendergast says. “But I would absolutely count the money.” It’s possible that a video record of the transaction could be used to confirm how many bills you count out, he says.
Act fast to improve your chances
3. Notify the bank or ATM owner. You can find a phone number on the ATM, telling you whom to call in case the machine isn’t located outside of a bankbranch, Prendergast says.
4. Act quickly. If you let the ATM owner know immediately, it will make it more likely that the company can trace the error, Feddis says.
An ATM error can leave you baffled, infuriated and not knowing where to turn. But if you take the right steps, the mistake is likely to get corrected.
“The outcomes in my experience have been the same,” Prendergast says. “That’s that the consumer is always dealt with very well and is not left in a bad position.
Five ATM Mistakes to Avoid
You just finished a lovely dinner somewhere in Victoria Island in Lagos or in Abuja, and you are told by the cashier that the restaurant accepts only cash. But as you dash off to the Automated Teller Machine to get cash, do your best to avoid making some mistakes
According to www.purewow.com, there are seven time-tested ATM mistakes you need to avoid making. These are:
1. Not shielding your PIN
This is not just about the person in line behind you. Next-level skimmers will go so far as to set up cameras to record your Personal Identification Number as you punch it in. A good idea? Use your free hand to cover the numbers. When it comes to your cash, better safe than sorry.
2. Tossing your ATM receipt
Computers never make mistakes, right? Wrong. An ATM receipt is the best proof of transaction should you spot an error you need to dispute. You don’t have to hold on to it forever—just until your withdrawal (or deposit) clears. Keep in mind: It’s best to shred your receipt before you toss it. You will be amazed what an identity thief can do with just your name and partial account number.
3. Using your credit card
It may feel more secure than using your debit card, but the charges on ATM withdrawals using a credit card is sky-high. (Not to mention that a lot of times you will be subjected to additional cash-advance transaction fees.) Even worse, there’s no grace period on paying interest for creditcard cash withdrawals. Bottom line: Emergencies aside, your debit card is really the only card you should be using at the ATM.• Not fighting the fees
4. Exorbitant ATM charges happen
This is not withstanding the fact that the Central Bank of Nigeria has stipulated guidelines on ATM and other charges. Never hesitate to call your bank and push back should you notice something funny on the ATM charges. If you’re a good customer (and nicely explain the fact that you had zero options available), in most cases, they’ll do you a favour and refund the fees. Those little money adds up.
5. Withdrawing cash from stand-alone ATMs beyond midnight.
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