An automated teller machine is a machine that allows bank customers to conduct their banking transactions without having to go to a bank. Bank customers can check their account balance, withdraw money, make a deposit, and even transfer funds and process payments through automated teller machines. Depending on the features offered by the customer’s bank, an ATM machine may have more or less options than the above stated features.
To be able to conduct transactions using automated teller machines a customer has to own an automated teller machine card (ATM card). Each ATM card has a unique card number that is linked to a unique bank account. The account owner is given a PIN number by the bank, or is asked to create one for the account; this serves as the account password and must be entered at the beginning of all ATM transactions. The PIN number serves as a security measure, which is why it should always be kept secret by the account owner. In case an ATM card is lost or stolen, the card owner should report the loss so that the bank can automatically deactivate the card to prevent its further use. A new ATM card is then issued to the account owner with a different card number but linked to the same bank account.
Some ATM cards double as a debit card, allowing bank customers to make purchases without having to withdraw money. When used as a debit card, ATM card owners have to key in their PIN number at the payment terminal of the store.