This is in reply to the post: Argentines risking all to carry huge wads of cash.
A lot can be written about this but this will mostly be focused on security around banks and ATMs, and other situations when the chance of being ambushed is greater than average. This is what I do when I make cash extractions.
1)Go alone. If something goes wrong I don’t want my wife and kids around. Of course if you’re lucky enough to have a buddy or two you can count on, by all means take advantage of the opportunity and go with them.
2)If I’m going to extract money through the ATM (here you can get almost a thousand US dollars out of the ATM with certain type of accounts) I’ll usually go around noon when there’s the most people. Going to the ATM after the bank closed isn’t a good idea.
3) I avoid ATM that are directly on the sidewalk or otherwise exposed like the plague. You don’t find much of those here anyway, too risky so they don’t even bother installing them that way.
4)Asses the immediate area around the ATM. Look for suspicious people nearby, also on the sidewalks. Bikes are used in most of the cases so pay particular attention to motorcycles. What should you be looking for? People that seem to be scanning their surroundings as well. Most people go about their day looking to the ground in front of them, or looking forward minding their business. You’re looking for the guy that looks aware and looking around for something.
5)When I punch in the PIN, I cover the dial with my other hand. Sometimes they hide pinhole cameras to steal your number.
6) If the money isn’t coming out or the credit card gets stuck, I make sure there’s not a “fisher” catching it. Sometimes they place a piece of folded metal inside so as to catch the money you extract, so as to steal either later once you leave, thinking its because of some other problem.
7) I often look into the reflection of the ATM screen to check if someone is staring at me or behaving suspiciously behind my back. Also, look to the sides, turn around and watch your back. Don’t be worried about being rude. Being nice wont do you any good with criminals.
8) Count the money carefully, place it in a pocket as discretely as possible before leaving, don’t hurry.
9) Asses your surroundings once again. Once I turn around, I look around me again to see if there’s anyone suspicious. Sometimes, criminals know you know. Its an “I see you, you see me” type of mental game. It may not seem like much but for the criminal it’s a world of a difference because he mostly counts on the surprise factor. When you asses people around you, you detect him and look straight into his eyes, so that he knows you know. He may make his move but its not going to be a surprise, and if you don’t look like someone he wants to take a chance with he will look for an easier victim.
10) Change your routine. Don’t go always the same day, at the exact same time.
11) What I do is hurry into a galleria near by, then check if there’s anyone following me. The galleria has two advantages a) lots of people, including some private security that isn’t the best thing but better than nothing b) it has 3 exits, so anyone following you will either be detected when you check your six or will have to try his luck guessing which exit you take. I go in, check my back, if not sure I walk into a store, then see if the guy is still there waiting. What if you do have a tail? What if there’s actually someone you saw and then again you notice when you walk into a store? You stay inside the store looking directly at him. If he doesn’t leave, tell the store manager or call the cops yourself on your cell phone. The couple times I saw someone suspiciously walking my way and then suspiciously waiting while I went into a store, they left after making it clear that I saw him, waiting there until they left.
12) Your car should be near by. Once you know you don’t have someone on your back, you can get into your vehicle. Its important to make sure you don’t have someone tailing you because the time when you open your car door is of certain risk: You’re turning your back to the world, you’re handling your car keys. You could be pushed inside the car and kidnapped. That’s why you have to make sure you don’t have someone following you before approaching your vehicle. Better yet, have someone waiting for you behind the wheel.
These are the things I do. Maybe its not very scientific or cool but it has worked for me so far.