PINning down the truth.

I have seen an old myth crop up again.

This is a myth I feel fully qualified to bust. The myth goes like this…

If you are being robbed at an ATM you can enter in your PIN backwards. This is expected to alert the authorities who will respond immediately to the duress alarm. This has come about from a mashup of a patent application made many years ago and an actual duress code used in banks.

First off, it is false because since we can choose our own PIN we are allowed to set a PIN like 3773 which is the same backwards and forwards. If that was the case then we would not be allowed to use this PIN combination. This was one of the main reasons that the patent was rejected. (That’s right, the myth is based on a FAILED patent!)

Now here is where this is TRUE (and possibly part of how this urban legend came to be).
I have spent over a decade working with ATMs and I have come to know the systems in and around ATMs and banking security. There is a system where you can enter in a secret code you can use that will allow access to money AND alert the authorities that something is up. I can confirm this but for the sake of customer security I will not say exactly where the code is used so will have to take my word for it or ask someone in the industry yourself.

Check out the full story at snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/business/bank/pinalert.asp).

This leaves us with the question. “So if I am forced to take money out of my account, what do I do?”
I think if you were to ask someone in security or law enforcement I would guess that they would advise that you do not resist and comply with the demands of the criminal. Take note of appearance, voice, distinguishing features, direction of travel etc. and as soon as it is safe to do so report the crime.

Do not fumble and try to remember your PIN and then reverse it while under stress as this may have the situation escalate very quickly.

I hope this helps to bust a potentially dangerous myth, keep my subscribers informed and equipped to avoid falling victim to internet rubbish.