English, Fake News

Entering ATM pin in reverse order will not notify the Police


In Facebook & other social media platforms, for the past few years, many users are sharing a post saying that if a person is forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, he can notify the police by entering his/her ATM PIN in reverse order. These posts are being shared widely across platforms. Let’s try to analyze to what extent the news is true.

The archived version of the post can be found here.

Claim: Entering your PIN in reverse order at any ATM will automatically notify the police.

Fact: Such a technology does exist but has not been deployed anywhere in the world owing to practical complexities. Hence, the claim stands FALSE as it speaks that such a security feature is already in existence.

This news is doing rounds globally on several online platforms for the past decade. In India, it is in circulation for a few years now. Although such emergency technology for use with ATMs does exist, but it hasn’t been deployed anywhere in the world owing to practical complexities. As per the experts, there are a number of issues with a system like this. A few of them are:  

1. Some people may have reversible PINs such as ‘2112’ or ‘5555’ and these palindromic PINs would become unavailable so as to avoid false calls to Police.

2. If you are in a stressful situation of being threatened to hand over money at an  ATM, it may be difficult to even remember the PIN from backwards. 

3. Even if you have managed to enter your PIN in reverse and the ATM has alerted the police, it is quite unlikely that the robber wouldn’t have run away picking the dispensed cash.

A report released by Federal Trade Commission in 2010 confirmed that emergency PIN technologies have never been deployed at an ATM, nor have there ever been any such systems on the machines. In 2018, ‘Business Insider India’ published an article saying that the news about the existence of such emergency technology in the ATMs is fake. The ATM manufacturer Diebold confirmed that to its knowledge no ATMs have or have had an emergency-PIN system in India.

To sum it up, the idea of entering ATM PIN in reverse so as to notify the Police is nothing more than an unimplemented concept.

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