Protect Your Privacy When Traveling With This Helpful Trick

Whether you're wandering around Mexico City eating up the street tacos, or partying it up in Music City in Nashville, sometimes you find yourself short on cash and need to top up at an ATM. It's easy to look at the machine in the corner of a bar or in a random shop front and think, "Hey, this is convenient! I'll grab some cash from here." When the nearest ATM is a five- or 10-minute walk away, that can seem very appealing. However, you should heed this warning: Not all ATMs are safe to use, especially in touristy areas.

The reason for this is because free-standing ATMs — like the ones you see in bars, grocery stores, and at random shops — are much easier to tamper with since they are not monitored 24/7 like bank ATMs. Thieves can attach devices, called ATM skimmers, that can read your card information and log your PIN number, making it easy pickings to steal cash from your account or make you a victim of identity theft.

To avoid this problem, it's best to stick to ATMs located at banks and, whenever possible, use the ones inside of the bank. These are the most secure machines to use since they are monitored with cameras, making it harder for criminals to tamper with.

Other safety tips you should know when using an ATM while traveling

When you're traveling, it can be easy to let your guard down. You shouldn't constantly be stressed about thieves and criminals when traveling, anyway. Where's the fun in that? One of the few exceptions to this, though, is when you're withdrawing cash from an ATM. There are a few safety tips you should keep in mind when doing so.

If you can, find a bank with enclosed ATMs where the entrance can only be opened with a card. This way, no one can come up behind you without you knowing or run past you to try and snatch your wallet or purse. Check the machine for skimmers by jiggling the card slot and keypad and checking for tape or other sticky residue on those parts of the machine.

Even if you're inside of a bank, remain aware of who is around you when withdrawing cash. If you are traveling with someone, it's easier for them to keep an eye out for you, but if you're alone, spatial awareness is especially important. Try to do it as quickly as possible, and don't linger around to count your cash. This is especially important if it's a large amount you're withdrawing, which you might be inclined to do when using an ATM abroad due to the high fees.