ATMs: PIN in Reverse?

We’ve had a number of questions from customers lately who’ve noticed a message circulating Facebook regarding the ability to send out an emergency signal from an ATM. Specifically, being able to punch in your PIN backwards which then alerts the police. This message is not new, in fact, it started circulating the Internet in 2006.

So the big question… Is it true? Without a doubt… NO. At least not at any Central National Bank ATM in the state of Kansas or Nebraska. Trust us. We know what we’re talking about.

So how about all of the other hundreds of thousands of ATMs in our country? Well… the next time your friend posts something like that as their status update, or forwards you an email, feel free to send them to
www.snopes.com/business/bank/pinalert.asp

This site is great for debunking all Internet circulated myths. In fact, if you read far enough down the page it will tell you the origin of the myth. What we didn’t know, is that this myth is rooted in some truths. Over the last few years, there have been several attempts to make this myth a reality; including a bill to the Kansas state senate’s Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. The bill died in 2004.

Now I KNOW you’re asking yourself why. Why, would something that seems like such a good idea get shut down? Why, would banks not put an emergency signal into all ATMs?

Well, the answer is simple. Do you think you could remember your PIN with a gun to your head/back? I can hardly remember my PIN when I am in line at the store. The pressure is just too much. Especially if everyone behind u me has two items and I’m trying to stuff all 112 items back into my cart so the bread and eggs don’t get squished. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine trying to remember my PIN BACKWARDS if my life depended on it!

The article on Snopes points this scenario out as well as a few others. But, the one that makes the most sense to me is that triggering an emergency signal could put the ATM user in more danger than simply withdrawing the money and reporting the crime later. Not every criminal is dumb – so they’re likely to notice that something strange is going on.

Do yourself a favor and set people straight when the myth starts circulating again.

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