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Could a 911 PIN Technology Prevent ATM Robberies?

January 03, 2018  | 

With the goal of preventing ATM robberies, a Chicago businessman received a patent for emergency PINs that allows cardholders to create a code that when used would dispense cash while secretly alerting police that a crime is unfolding.

But Joe Zingher got nowhere — even after Illinois enacted watered down legislation in 2004 asking banks to adopt the technology in the face of growing ATM crime. The banks ignored the request, Philly.com reports.

Zingher believes banks are resisting the technology because of costs. His patent has expired, while other companies, also now defunct, created similar safety measures. Zingher, who cannot profit from the technology anymore, says banks have successfully downplayed ATM crime, leaving the public unaware of the need for more protection.

“Worldwide, the banking industry has used its political control over countries to prevent police from tracking forced ATM withdrawals because it would harm the business model, and, in doing so, they made it easier for criminals to avoid arrest,” says Zingher.

The banking industry has argued that victims could be put at more risk struggling to remember a safety code and that there could be false reports if someone accidentally used a safety PIN. Zingher rejects the arguments, likening the example of a bumbling victim to the attitude that if the technology can’t save everyone, then the industry will save no one.

It is not known how many ATM crimes are committed in the United States. The FBI does not require that law enforcement agencies to keep ATM crime statistics. In 2016, the latest year statistics are available, there were 4,200 bank robberies reported in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. That does not reflect customers robbed at bank ATMs or other businesses.


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