1. News & Issues

Discuss in my forum

Here's a scary scenario. You're at an ATM, about to make a transaction, and someone walks up behind you and sticks a gun in your back. He orders you to withdraw all your money and hand it over to him. What do you do? According to a popular email rumor, you quietly punch in your PIN (personal identification number) in reverse, which automatically notifies police that you're in distress. Help is on the way. Or is it? Unfortunately, although "PIN number reversal" technology does exist, it's not currently in use anywhere in the U.S. Read more...

Comments

October 20, 2006 at 10:47 am
(1) TMichael says:

but what if your pin is the same in reverse? such as 1221?

October 20, 2006 at 11:36 am
(2) urbanlegends says:

Then, as I understand it, you enter your PIN “inside-out” — 2112.

October 24, 2006 at 10:04 am
(3) Jim Rodkey says:

Advising people to use a technology that doesn’t implemented is dangerous. A guy holding you up at an ATM isn’t going to be patient and now thanks to this email people will try this, only irratating the robber which will result in not only theft but the possibility of physical violence as well. It’s irresponsible to promote the use of this until (if ever) it’s implemented.

December 11, 2006 at 2:50 pm
(4) Torraine says:

What if your pin is 4444?

June 21, 2011 at 12:19 am
(5) john says:

i don now what is the of my atm card dbp pin

June 23, 2011 at 5:06 am
(6) POpes says:

Then you’re an idiot! :)

December 11, 2006 at 4:36 pm
(7) EyeBaller says:

Just don’t allow pins like 4444. They’re not exactly secure anyway.. easy to watch someone enter that. The bank can just stop those from ever being generated

December 11, 2006 at 5:10 pm
(8) JohnGotti says:

Bottom Line – PIN technology isnt implemented.. Just kick him in the nuts.

December 14, 2006 at 6:56 pm
(9) geoffrey says:

Not long ago, after receiving a new debit card, I tried to use it to pay for my purchases. My pin number wouldn’t work after repeated tries, so I paid cash. I went home, checked the number and realized I’d been entering it in reverse. Hmmm. I wonder if the police showed up at Wal-Mart shortly after I left…

Pul-lease. Most urban myths / internet rumors can be debunked simply by… Thinking about it!

December 16, 2006 at 11:36 pm
(10) The_hctib..haha says:

I have received this email from SOOOO many people and I am replying with the REAL information and I agree 100% with JohnGotti, KICK him/her in the nuts/crotch and run like hell….

December 18, 2006 at 10:28 am
(11) rumormills says:

I just got an email for this hoax this morning and knew it was false immediately. It would not be impossible to create a system where you type in an emergency pin (independent of your real pin #) that still allows you to remove money, but alerts the bank and/or police that it is a theft. Even if someone steals your bankcard and forces you to give up the pin # you just give them the emergency pin and the bank would know all those transactions were fraudulent. It’s hard to imagine why banks haven’t thought of that.

December 18, 2006 at 2:56 pm
(12) Heather says:

if you are being forced to withdraw money from ATM you can enter your PIN number in reverse order that will inform police to take action?

This is actually a hoax. It is not at all true.

You can think of a situation when someones PIN number is a pallindrome e.g. 2332 or 1111.

The technology exists which would allow ATM users to contact police in an emergency by punching in their PIN (personal identification number) in reverse, but as of this writing it has not yet been implemented anywhere in the United States.

Lawmakers in the states of Kansas and Illinois introduced legislation calling for the institution of reverse-PIN emergency notification systems (also known under the brand name SafetyPIN) in 2004, but the Kansas bill stalled in committee and the Illinois bill was watered down at the behest of the banking industry, making the adoption of the technology purely voluntary — which it already was.
According to a story published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year, bankers are opposed to the reverse-PIN system because of safety concerns. They worry that ATM users might hesitate or fumble while trying to enter their PINs backwards under duress, possibly increasing the chances of violence. The banking industry is in favor of finding a means to protect ATM customers, a member of the American Bankers Association said, but question whether the reverse-PIN solution is the right one.

The inventor of SafetyPIN, Joseph Zingher, claims the banking industry is afraid to admit the growing extent of the crime of ATM robbery. Exact figures are hard to come by because ATM holdups are lumped in with other types of bank robbery in the FBI’s annual crime statistics. Of the 8,000 to 12,000 bank robberies per year counted by the FBI over the past 15 years, 3,000 to 4,000 (or just over one-third) were ATM robberies, according to the banking industry. Some crime experts suspect the figure is actually higher.

Bankers, for their part, insist they do acknowledge the problem of ATM crime and recommend that customers exercise due caution and be aware of their surroundings when using automated teller machines.

December 18, 2006 at 9:28 pm
(13) YP says:

Just the fact the technology exists could prevent many such crimes from happening – to-be-robbers won’t take chances. So I “voted” for the system.

December 19, 2006 at 2:05 pm
(14) wandu says:

will why don’t someone try it and wait to see how lone it will take a police offer to show up.

December 19, 2006 at 2:24 pm
(15) rumormills says:

Systems only provisionally deter criminals. You may see an initial decrease in ATM robbery and card theft, but someone will find an alternative. Security is an ever-evolving concern; IT people conceive new technology and hackers find a way to break it; banks install cameras and robberies still take place; you take anticipatory steps to secure your home and car, but someone still risks being caught in an attempt to steal from you. Criminals are desperate and the prospect of a quick win and not being caught is tempting.

Banks could implement a system only making it harder for the criminals, but not impossible. So, hypothetically, you are being robbed and instead of using your regular pin, you use your “emergency pin number” all that does it alert the bank and authorities that a theft has occurred. Nothing guarantees that they catch the person responsible.

All people can do is try not to make themselves easy targets. Do not walk around fumbling through a purse or contents of your pockets, take inventory of people around you, and follow your instincts; if it does not feel right that is because it probably is not.

December 20, 2006 at 9:59 am
(16) npierce says:

Even if this was true, what would be the point? Are you really going to hang around waiting for the police to show up? There’s no way they could respond in time to assist you in any way. Seriously think about it folks. It only takes a minute or two to make a transaction, then the robber runs away. What would you say, “He ran that way about 15 minutes ago Officer”? How useless is that?

December 20, 2006 at 12:00 pm
(17) Nisto says:

Criminals aren’t stupid though. Don’t you think that instead of being at the ATM, where systems could be set up, waiting around the corner or out of the vestibule would be their obvious loophole to counteract anything the bank could try to do?

December 20, 2006 at 4:46 pm
(18) imdnmex says:

If they ever implement this, what will happen to people with dyslexia? Won’t somebody please think of the dyslexic people!?

December 21, 2006 at 1:58 pm
(19) K_Hazelton says:

This is actually a myth and is not advised. There is no mechanism that will decrypt a PIN backwards and provide cash. Furthermore; I’m not aware of any ATM machine being able to dial 911. However, some do have video surveillance. It would be infinitely better to add a duress question to the withdrawal transaction than to use secret codes. Bottom Line: the ATM network providers would never create any process that could compromise the encryption on the mag-stripe.

December 21, 2006 at 2:22 pm
(20) K_Hazelton says:

BTW… Don’t be fooled. Joseph Zingher (this scheme’s inventor) is selling snake oil. As the arguments above show, the idea of a backwards pin as a 911 call is pretty stupid.

December 29, 2006 at 3:24 pm
(21) nick says:

bank robberys at atm 99% happens at night and after club hopping, Go to a ATM when its still day light or to a crowded area. Dont go their late at night especially when times are hard and people are desperate for money. Go to banks by the mall they have security driving and walking around those malls

January 3, 2007 at 12:07 am
(22) Paul says:

wouldn’t it be cool if you could have an alternate pin number for like someones spouse, or a robber, where they would see only a couple dollars in checking, instead of the real balance? lol

January 5, 2007 at 11:43 am
(23) Jayson Robinson says:

It would increase rather than decrease crime. Think about it. Robbers would know about this and simply ‘rob’ a friend of theirs, get the money, make it look authentic to the video camera and the bank repays the money to the ‘victim’… a stupid technology.

January 9, 2007 at 10:19 pm
(24) homer says:

DOH!

January 15, 2007 at 6:20 pm
(25) Deane Jessep says:

Jayson Robinson due to cameras in Machines this kind of fraud is already common.

I have worked as a ATM programmer/installer some basic clarifications would be helpful:

1) The system is possible… everything exists right now to make it work, ATM’s can call the police through internal comms systems, and with a bit of programming the banks could include this within their systems.

2) Recalling a pin number backwards under duress is hard, unless you pre memorize it or are looking at a pin pad (try it it is much easier) both things that people are liely to do/be doing.

3) The real reason the system is not implemented is that someone has a patent on it and the Banks cannot do it for free. Like most issues this one is political/commercial in nature, not technical.

4) A duress question at withdrawl will get you shot in the head if you click it.

5) The police may not respond instantly but just the chance of summoning an officer (or security guard) driving around near by would be better than no chance at all.

I think that a safety system like this is a no brainer, if you debunk it you have clearly never known someone in the position of ATM robbery.
Many home invaders go down to a machine and empty peoples bank accounts out while the invasion is still on, some of these that I am aware of have even resulted in everyone being killed after the money is obtained. This system could prevent that by alerting the police that a problem exists with the owner of the card.

I do not support the email running around at the moment but the technology it proports is truly a good idea.

January 26, 2007 at 12:52 pm
(26) K'Kay says:

I’d like to make a comment about that “kick em’ in the nuts and run” answer that I’ve seen a few times…that’s the dumbest advice that I’ve read in a long time…that “action hero” BS can get you killed…give up the cash. You can get more money, you can’t get more life.
Peace

January 30, 2007 at 3:11 pm
(27) Joe Zingher says:

I’m the inventor of the ATM SafetyPIN system. The fact is that the system has been reviewed by police and supported on the public record by police in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Kansas and Illinois. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police lobbied for two years to make it mandatory. They examined all the criticisms made above and found them unimportant. The crime pattern begins as an abduction in a carjacking or a home invasion and often results in a murder so that the criminal can continue making withdrawals. Keep your eyes on the news folks. The banking industry has kept the information out of the public eye for a long time and even they don’t know how good a job they did. They’re about to find out though. When one of these crimes occurs, the information comes to the police by one of three pathways. (1) If the victim survives, the first officer on the scene establishes the ATM involvement in his report. The patrol supervisor reads that report everyday. So, merely asking all the patrol supervisors for their estimate of the problem and adding up those answers gives you a reliable estimate. (2) If the victim is a confirmed murder case, the investigating officer establishes the ATM connection several business days later when the bank has responded to the search warrant. By that time, the 24 hour news cycle has passed and the newsies don’t report it. (3) The third is when an adult disappears under suspicious circumstances and the last clue to their whereabouts is a series of ATM withdrawals leading out of the area. This number is twice the number of known murders. This leaves two categories unaccounted for. They are missing persons, no foul play suspected and persons who didn’t carry ATM cards in the first place. For example, a man comes home and finds his wife, his 3 year old son and her car are missing. He reports them missing, but because there is no evidence of foul play, the police can’t do much. They assume she’s a runaway wife, which is common in unhappy marriages. Finally, people who don’t even carry ATM cards are at risk as well. How many criminals walk up and politely inquire, “Pardon me, have you an ATM card by any chance?” before beginning the crime. The mere hope that the victim has one is enough to prompt an attack against them. The way the ATM industry functions creates a danger for all of society, not just those who are willing to take the risk of carrying an ATM card. If you know of anyone who was the victim of one of these crimes, please contact me.

January 31, 2007 at 2:03 pm
(28) Dr Gee says:

I disagree with JohnGotti if he has a gun kiking him in the nuts could be dangerous!

August 27, 2007 at 7:38 am
(29) Arun says:

I think this mail would be originally sent by a thief to get d money n reduce the risk

March 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm
(30) pf says:

while this does not work, it is a good idea for the banks to devise similar solutions, like allowing you to append your password/pin with 4357 (HELP) which is immediately forwarded to the local authorities. Does not seem very far fetched.

Another solution, keep away from dodgy locations!

March 28, 2008 at 6:04 pm
(31) Mary Anne says:

The real John Gotti wouldn’t say kick’em anywhere, he’d send his hit men

July 28, 2008 at 1:01 pm
(32) SYLVESTER says:

I AM A STAFF OF A REPUTABLE BANK WORKING IN THE E-BANKING UNIT. THE ISSUE OF PIN REVERSAL IS NOT APPLICABLE HERE COS BY THE TIME YOU ENTER YOUR PIN INCORRECTLY THREE TIMES IN A ROW, THE ATM WILL RETRACT YOUR CARD. REMEMBER, MR. ARMED ROBBER WILL NOT BE PATIENT FOR YOU TO TRY SOME FUNNY GAME ON HIM. INFACT SOME BOLD ONES WILL COLLECT YOUR CARD AND PIN AT GUN POINT AND ‘HELP’ YOU TO DO THE WITHDRAWALS AFTER WHICH HE WILL CASUALLY HAND THE CARD BACK TO YOU. THIS IS OF COURSE FOR ATM WITH NO CAMERA!
IF YOU ARE CONFRONTED, SIMPLY CO-OPERATE. THAT’S MY ADVISE.

August 20, 2008 at 1:21 am
(33) Sam says:

I aint a robber or anything but if i was and i was going to rob some one at an ATM then i would wait until they have actually withdrawn their money and then shove the gun into their chest/back.

for the record i aint a robber/mugger/theif etc etc im just sayin thats what i would do

November 6, 2008 at 11:47 pm
(34) steve says:

You have to be kidding, The withdraw would be my side arm and the deposit would be led in the dudes chest or head. Play the game with the right people and you will pay the ultimate price.

November 13, 2008 at 3:42 am
(35) wes says:

i have just got of the phone with a branch of the hboss bank and they have said that this something that they are not aware of and is not something in use in the uk

January 30, 2009 at 9:26 am
(36) eastcoastjac says:

I can barely remmeber my pin number the right way around. How in heavens name will I get it right – back to front – under pressure from a criminal at an ATM. Darn silly if you ask me.
There must be a better way!

March 3, 2009 at 10:01 am
(37) Holly says:

All ATM’s have a withdrawl limit so you could never be made to withdrawl a large amount of money anyway.

March 8, 2009 at 10:52 am
(38) Joe Zingher says:

I’m the inventor, and here’s what’s happening. The banking industry has been fighting the idea of any emergency PIN for decades, not just mine. They’ve made a conscientious decision to ignore the problem because the profit margin is so high that they just deduct the murders from their overhead. Every lawyer studies this hypothetical in first year torts and criminal law: There’s an empty building, and one morning, a woman’s body is found inside. The police investigate and conclude she was abducted off the street, taken there, raped and murdered. The police advise the building owner to put a lock on the door and put up a light. Nothing happens the FIRST time a body is found, but then it happens again, and again they tell him to put a lock on the door. He still won’t put the lock on the door. Then it happens again. And again. And again. And it never stops. At some point, the owner not only gets sued, they condemn the building and demolish it and the States’ Attorney takes it to the Grand Jury. This isn’t the law gone amok. That’s how the law has been for over 400 years. Substitute “ATM” for “building”, and “ATM owner” for “building owner” and what do you come up with? If you do some research into the issue, you’ll find that they come up with various explanations. Some claim it is technologically impossible. Some just ask the question “could anyone ever use it” Some claim it’s too expensive. They all give different answers. When someone is giving different answers to the same question, you have a problem. For the latest news, check this out. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1355&GAID=10&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=42570&SessionID=76&GA=96 http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1745367387/ATM-software-aimed-at-reversing-crime

March 27, 2009 at 11:26 am
(39) Demola says:

Pls how true is this and is there a link with the Security Operative and the reversal numbers with the ATM machines in Nigeria. So as to know if this is also applicable in a Countryu like Nigeria. Thanks from Demola (Nigeria” Good People Great Nation”)

March 30, 2009 at 2:07 pm
(40) Maria says:

I have a really has a good time read this story and enjoy the imagination people have. I usually never go to the ATM. I suggest to get the close Walmart, CVS, Lowes, is many places you can get cash after your purchasing, I dont remember how much you can get, but is an alternative to be save and away from predators.

September 5, 2009 at 9:00 am
(41) umesh khatri says:

so, i don’t understand that why USA didn’t used this kinds of securities tips for ATM as being the world countries leader??

March 18, 2010 at 1:52 am
(42) Katie says:

um to all the people who are talking about PINs like 4444 and 1221, banks dont let you use numbers more than once in a PIN so yeah…

August 9, 2011 at 5:17 am
(43) happy says:

they will allow. one of ma friend having….. :P

May 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm
(44) Kertrina says:

To Katie, yes they do let you repeat numbers, I only have two different numbers in mines, Do your research before you post PLEASE…

June 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm
(45) jade says:

can somebody give me a pin number

July 12, 2011 at 1:30 am
(46) menon says:

8190…try it

June 23, 2010 at 5:26 am
(47) Reddy says:

it wont work … some idiotic people are spreading all those stuff
think 1111 , 2222 , 3333 like that …..

September 18, 2011 at 2:54 am
(48) Sujit says:

I feel we can always change the PIN and this is just a awareness to bring to the notice of people.

October 13, 2011 at 7:46 am
(49) sanjeew k singh says:

Sanjeew Singh A thorough clarification in this regard is here http://www.hoax-slayer.com/reverse-pin-ATM.shtml

December 10, 2011 at 2:48 am
(50) Albert says:

if a ‘reverse number 911′ system is partially adopted as a standard,
an bad guy would expect you to use it in a robbery situation.
so he would know to first try the reverse of the number
you gave him..

if an ‘error msg’ appeared, he would know
the number you gave him was safe.

if the reverse of what you gave him worked,
he would feel he likely circumvented 911.

the better system would allow you to select any ‘emergency pin’
you liked.
this would prevent the expectation of a ‘reverse emergency number’,
and make the ‘testing the reverse’ less useful.

simple minded people could sill select the ‘reverse number’,
but this would no longer be the crooks universal expectancy.

March 5, 2013 at 8:27 am
(51) Brian says:

Another idea would be to dispense counterfeit money if the PIN is reversed. The serial numbers can track the money to that particular transaction at that bank. Problem with that is, some cashier would accept it not knowing it’s counterfeit, lol.

Leave a Comment


Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>
  1. About.com
  2. News & Issues
  3. Urban Legends

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.