ATM PIN Alerts – Fact or Fiction?

18 Oct

Typing Your PIN Backwards When Held Up At An ATM Will Alert The Police

We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is most certainly fiction. If you think, or have heard, that by typing your PIN code backwards if you are held up at an ATM help will be on its way, think again! It’s simply not true.

Of course, we have social media to blame for spreading this particular false safety tip. ABSA bank recently spoke out to warn their customers that they should never believe circulated safety tips unless their validity is guaranteed.

What Happens If You Type Your PIN Backwards At The ATM?

Forgetting a PIN number is not an unusual occurrence, and if you have ever experienced this momentary lack of memory you will recall that you have 3 opportunities to type in your PIN correctly. Get it wrong 3 – or with some banks 4, times and the ATM swallows your card which is always a frustrating inconvenience, and this is precisely what will happen if you input your PIN backwards, regardless of why you are doing it. You will get a number of “Incorrect PIN” warnings before your card is then retained by the machine, but sadly, the bank won’t get a security alert notification.

Are There Any ATM Safety Tips That Can Be Relied On?

If you can’t input your PIN backwards, how else can you stay safe while using an ATM? We all know that opportunistic criminals abound and as a result, unreliable safety tips are bound to do the rounds on social media. Here are a couple of reminders and tips for safe ATM use:

  • Never ask for assistance at an ATM (even from security officials or someone who looks like they work for the bank). If you are unsure of how to use the ATM or need further assistance, it’s best to go into the bank branch and chat to the customer service consultants.
  • Likewise, don’t be taken in by someone who might be ‘faking ignorance’ and looking for assistance. Rather advise them to go and speak to a consultant.
  • If you are attacked at an ATM, wait until you are safely away from the bank before reporting the incident to your bank. They will be able to put a block on the card to stop fraudulent purchases.
  • Always be alert when approaching the ATM and when using it. Many ATM facilities have mirror features so that you can see if anyone is approaching you while your bank is turned.

Unfortunately, people have been taken in by false security tips and particularly by the ‘type your PIN backwards tip’, but it does serve as a lesson that extra precaution must be taken when it comes to dealing with money. How and why such a scam tip emerged is unknown, but if you hear of a safety tip that seems unbelievable or you aren’t sure of, it’s best to contact your bank to confirm it.

At Soteria we are always on the alert to advise our customers about new scams and false security tips. If you have been in the unfortunate position of being scammed, let us know the details so that we can share this information and advice with others, to help them avoid similar situations.

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