ATMs should spit back your card and the correct amount of cash you requested every time, right? Sadly, not always - every now and then one of these machines goes rogue. Lydia Anderson offers some tips.

Potential problems
Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell has issued an ATM glitch guide to help customers making ATM transactions. It follows "a number of interesting cases involving transactions in which both deposits and withdrawal amounts have been incorrectly recorded by the machine".

In one case, a customer tried to deposit $1055 in an ATM, but the machine only recorded $330. She cancelled her transaction and only $330 was returned.

When the customer complained about being "short-changed", the bank said that according to the ATM's records everything balanced. She was advised to complain to the Banking Ombudsman.

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"The complainant's claim the machine was hiding her money was only proved correct when the funds were found during routine maintenance," Battell says.

There's also the frustrating inconvenience of an ATM machine eating your card, potentially leaving you stranded without access to cash.

An added and more serious problem is card skimming - where thieves place an electronic device on an ATM to read users' card details without their knowledge.

Police say a telltale sign an ATM has been tampered with is if a customer has difficulty getting a card in or out.

A useful guide
The new guide covers security precautions people should take when using machines such as shielding their pin entry, and clarifying how fees and charges can be applied to ATM use.

What to do if you ever have ATM trouble is also covered.

"Most problems are easily sorted out between customers and their banks so the first thing is to complain to your own bank," Battell says.

On rare occasions, the situation may be more complicated and customers can ask the Banking Ombudsman to help if they are not satisfied with the bank's response.

Complaints investigated by the Ombudsman involve investigators obtaining security video footage and seeking proof from banks that their machines were accurate.

Advice from banks
An ASB spokesperson says if a customer's card becomes jammed in an ASB ATM, they are advised to go to their nearest branch or call 0800 803 804.

There is no charge for replacing a captured card.

If money becomes jammed in an ASB ATM, the customer is provided a receipt with details of the transaction and reference number to help correct the transaction.

Other bank customers are advised to contact their bank to investigate the transaction.

BNZ channel manager ATM and self service, Paul Johnson, says if a customer experiences any issues with an ATM they can call 0800 ASK BNZ or visit any BNZ branch.

There is no charge to recover or issue a captured card.

"It's also worth noting that we cannot return a card where it has been captured at an ATM due to a request from the card's issuer. An example of this could be incorrect pin entry, lost and stolen cards, or cards that have expired."

If a customer believes they have received less than the full amount they requested, they can contact BNZ through the call centre or visit a branch to resolve the problem.

In terms of ATM security, Johnson urges customers to cover their pin entry and never disclose their pin.

"Always remain aware of your surroundings and, be aware of others standing unusually close or trying to distract you while you are using the ATM.

"Use ATMs in well-lit areas and, if the ATM does not look right or suspicious, don't use it and report it."