Expert explains: What you should consider when withdrawing money

Margit Schneider, head of security management for payment cards at Euro Kartensysteme, explains what precautions banks have taken to better protect consumers.

Question: How secure is withdrawing money in Germany?

Margit Schneider: Basically, withdrawing money in Germany was and is safe. Since 2009, the institutes have spent enormous resources to further increase security at the then around 60,000 ATMs in order to implement the new EMV standard. “Away from the magnetic stripe towards the secure EMV chip” was the motto of all institutions operating ATMs.

The result: Since 2011 we have not used skimmed cards in Germany if the original card was an EMV chip card. And that has long been standard. Cards were still skimmed at German ATMs, but could only be used outside of Europe. Anyone who can be proven to have been affected by such an attack will have the card-issuing institutions reimburse the damage incurred quickly and smoothly.

In addition to the EMC conversion, there were and are other security measures. These include, for example, mechanical security devices on ATMs, video surveillance, intruder alarm systems, color cartridges and fogging technology. Which technology is used at which location depends on the respective location and the associated risk.

Question: In terms of security, is there a difference between withdrawing money from a supermarket checkout, from a free-standing ATM or from a bank branch machine?

Schneider: In principle, withdrawing money from a machine – whether freestanding or in a branch – is just as safe as at the supermarket checkout.

When withdrawing cash abroad, you should make sure to choose a language at the machine that you understand, for example to avoid unwanted transactions such as donations. It is also advisable to only visit the ATMs in a foreign branch during regular opening hours. If there are difficulties, you have a contact person on site.

Question: What can consumers do to make withdrawing money even more secure?

Schneider: In order to protect yourself from criminal tricks, you should always cover the keyboard with your free hand or your wallet when entering your PIN at the ATM. In addition, you should not get distracted when withdrawing money, get involved in conversations or let others “help” you.

Seems a bit strange, better cancel the process. If there are any abnormalities in the machine, such as additional or loosely assembled components, you should stop the process and inform the bank. If the card is retained by the ATM, it must be blocked immediately by calling the central blocking emergency number 116 116.

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