STUART, Fla. -- Tips abound for staying safe when banking or transacting online. Still, it is also essential to consider your physical safety when visiting a branch, using an ATM or entering and exiting any building.
One form of robbery on the rise is called “bank jugging.” A suspect will watch from the banking parking lot, follow customers they believe have cash and look for an opportunity to burglarize their vehicles or rob them directly. Police say this type of crime usually happens when the victim’s money is visible or carried in a bank bag, envelope or coin box.
Protect what’s most important, your safety, starting with the tips below:
Safety At The ATM
Select ATMs in well-lit, public areas, especially if you’re visiting at night.
Always be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area for suspicious activity, like someone loitering around a corner or waiting in a nearby car.
Count your money and check your slips after you’ve left the ATM. Counting the money in front of the ATM leaves you less alert to potential threats and draws attention to all that cash in your hands.
Paper receipts include sensitive information, so be cautious about leaving receipts behind at the ATM. Always dispose of your receipts at home.
Before inserting your card into the ATM, check for signs of tampering; bad guys can install tiny skimmers on the card readers that may steal information from the magnetic stripe on the card. Also, shield the keypad when entering your PIN.
Safety In A Parking Lot
Park in well-lit areas close to walkways and other people.
Always lock your car when you get out, but also lock it when you get back in.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. If you must, stow them out of sight to discourage a break-in.
No matter how tempting, only leave your car running if another adult remains inside.
Try not to be distracted. Avoid being on your phone, wearing earbuds, etc.
Have your keys in your hand. Try to avoid looking for your keys while at your car door.
Safety Entering/Exiting Branches
Conceal money before leaving the bank. Secure it in a different bag (other than the small zipper cash bags or envelopes utilized), such as a briefcase or purse.
Walk with a purpose and avoid distractions such as texting on your phone or listening on headphones.
Safety For Business Customers
Small and medium-sized businesses that are cash-based and need to make large deposits or cash withdrawals should consider the additional tips below:
Vary your routine; do not go to the bank at the same time on the same day of the week.
Do not carry cash in bank bags or deposit books, as this will make it evident that you are carrying cash.
Avoid making withdrawals on high-risk days such as the first Monday, Friday or Saturday of a month or just before the end of a month.
What To Do If You Feel Threatened
If you suspect you are being targeted, call 911 or drive to the nearest police or fire/EMS station. Do NOT confront the suspect.
And as always, if you see something, say something. Customers are always encouraged to speak with security at your local branch. If you feel uneasy, someone from the branch will gladly escort you to your vehicle.