ATM is short for automated (or automatic) teller machine. An ATM is basically a computer hooked to an interface which allows people to withdraw money from their bank account without having to interact with a live bank employee. Some machines offer transactions other than cash withdrawal. ATMs can be located on-site (in a branch of the bank) or off-site (anywhere that the machine can be installed). ATMs offer the convenience of being able to conduct banking transactions without being limited by the operating hours of the bank. Other terms used in lieu of ATM include cash machine, automatic banking machine, and cash dispenser.
In order to use an ATM, the account holder needs an ATM card, which is a piece of plastic embedded with a magnetic strip. It is not much different from a credit card, except in function. Debit cards are also usable in most ATMs. Users simply need to insert the ATM or debit card into the designated slot. The machine will prompt for a PIN (personal identification number) code, the length of which will vary depending on the bank and the country. Once the identity of the user has been verified, the user can choose from the array of services from the menu.
Using the ATM may incur fees depending on the issuing bank and the bank that owns the machine. It also depends on whether you are using an ATM overseas or not.
There has been a history of ATM fraud and crime, although incidents have somewhat lessened over the years. It is vital, however, that users keep the knowledge of the PIN to themselves in order to avoid potential cases of fraud.