Enter your ATM Pin
Number Backwards to Summon Police-Fiction!
Summary of the eRumor: An alert that if you ever find
yourself in a scary situation at a banking ATM machine, such as a thief
forcing you to withdraw cash, just enter your personal identification
number (PIN) backwards. That will automatically send a message to the
police that you are in trouble and they will respond to the
machine. The eRumor says that most people don't know about this.
The Truth: The eRumor is false because
there isn't anywhere that we could find where this emergency procedure
at ATM machines is actually being used.
There is a seed of truth to it, however, in that the idea has been
floating around for a while. One of the biggest proponents has
been in Illinois attorney named Joseph Zingher. He says the notion came
to him when he was a law student at the University of Illinois and one
evening was withdrawing money from an ATM in a scary part of town.
He patented his concept in 1998 and has been trying to talk banks into
using it ever since.
Under Zingher's system, every ATM account would have two PIN
numbers---the normal PIN used to withdraw money and what he calls the
"ATM SafetyPIN" to alert police that something bad was
happening at the ATM. It has also come to be popularly called the
"Panic PIN." The SafetyPIN would typically be the
reverse of the normal PIN number or some other variation that would be
easy to remember. Legislation was passed in Illinois that would
allow banks to adopt the system, but did not mandate it. So far,
no banks or financial institutions have done so. Zingher has
offered to let Illinois-based banks to use it for free but some of them
have said they think it would be too expensive and that ATM crime is not
frequent enough. Zingher says that ATM crime is much higher than
believed because not all crime reporting reflects whether it has taken
place in connection with an ATM or forced withdrawal of cash.
A real example of the eRumor as it has
appeared on the Internet:
If you are ever forced to withdraw monies from an ATM
machine, you can notify the police by entering
your Pin # in reverse. The machine will still give
you the monies you requested, but unknown to the robber, etc, the
police will be immediately dispatched to help you.
The broadcast stated that this method of calling
the police is very seldom used because people don't
know it exists, and it might mean the difference between life and death.
Hopefully, none of you will have to use this, but I wanted to pass it