ATM CRIME AND PREVENTION
 
 

Thomas C. Rzycki

CS 350A



 
 

INTRODUCTION
1
Overview
1
Statistics
1
TECHNOLOGY TODAY
2
Eye-Recognition Technology
2
SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communications System
3
PREVENTION TIPS
4
General Prevention Tips
4
At a Drive-Up ATM
6
At a Walk-Up ATM
6
CONCLUSION
7
WORKS CITED
8

 
 
 
INTRODUCTION

Overview

Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are very common in communities around the United States. ATM crime is also increasing in these communities.

On October 22, 1998 in Grand Rapids an attempted ATM robbery took place at the NBD Bank on Lake Michigan Drive. The victim had a pistol put to his back and the robber demanded money. The victim ignored the request and walked to his car where he was confronted again. The victim just drove away. Later the victim was able to identify the robber to police and the robber was arrested. Police arrested a 16-year old and recovered a BB pistol nearby.

Some of the new generations of ATMs are able to cash a check to the penny, dispense travelerís checks and postage stamps, perform stock transfers, print discount coupons, issue phone cards, and even sell concert tickets. (1) Customers are grateful for these ATM features but they are also very concerned with ATM crime and safety.

Statistics

According to Barry Schreiber, Professor of Criminal Justice at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, ninety-six percent of ATM crimes are committed when there is only one person at an ATM. Mr. Schreiber suggests that you take someone with you if you can.

According to the Toronto Police Service, over seventy percent of ATM robberies occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Authorities suggest that you try and limit the use of ATMs to daylight hours.

According to Chris E. McGoey, a security specialist, ATM robbers are usually male under the age of 25 and most work alone. Most ATM victims are women and were alone when robbed.

Most ATM victims, who were interviewed by police, claimed they never saw the robber coming. Most ATM robbers use guns or claim that they have a weapon concealed when they confront victims and demand their money.

TECHNOLOGY TODAY

Eye-Recognition Technology

Pin numbers and bankcards could become obsolete for millions of ATM users. (2) A Moorestown, NJ based company named Sensar has developed an identification system that takes a photo of the iris, the round, pigmented membrane surrounding the pupil of the eye. Two seconds after the picture of the iris is taken, it is digitized and compared to a photo on file. Sensar states that the iris is the most data rich part of the body. The iris has more than 250 unique wrinkles, freckles, and ridges that remain constant over the years.

Rob Van Naarden, a spokesperson for Sensar, said that Citibank has signed a three million dollar contract to develop and purchase the technology and plans to test it at several banks in two major U.S. cities. Citibank would not confirm the plans.

Sensarís customers would still have to use their bankcards so the ATM can locate their accounts. Eventually, the iris pattern itself could identify the account.

Citibank is optimistic about this new technology because personal identification numbers (PINs) are often lost or stolen. ATM fraud costs banks up to $150 million dollars a year. Because the iris scan would enhance security, banks could lift limits on cash withdrawals and slash costs by providing bank checks, wire transfers and other services at ATMs. (3) Sensar states that the system would initially cost about 4000 dollars to install but should fall to less than 2000 dollars.

SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communications System

The SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communication System is a unique programmable system on the cutting edge of technology. (4) The SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communications System is not an alarm; itís people safeguard. The SafeAlert system is a microprocessor-controlled form of technology for making covert telephone calls from the place of an emergency to the appropriate authorities. The system is integrated into a bank's existing central alarm system and is designed to be installed on any make or model of ATM. (5) A button is mounted on the faceplate of the ATM, and a speaker and a microphone are attached under the faceplate. The control unit is mounted on the wall in the ATM room.

By pushing the red and white "911 POLICE EMERGENCY" button, the system is activated and the ATM user is in two-way communication with the 911 Dispatcher. The ability to report a crime quickly will assist the police in apprehension of the thief and recovery of the victim's assets. (6) SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communications System is covertly installed and tamper resistant on any ATM.

The SafeAlert 911 Emergency Communications System works similar to a programmable speaker telephone. When someone using an ATM feels that they have an emergency situation, they push the 911 button. Within moments, the local 911 Dispatcher answers the call and can be heard at the ATM unit. The 911 Dispatcher can not only hear the caller, but he/she can also hear noises and conversations within twenty feet of the ATM. (7)

This system can be configured for both walk-up and drive-up automatic teller machines. The SafeAlert system is installed on an existing telephone line, so no new telephone line is needed. Because all calls on the SafeAlert system are made directly to the 911 Dispatcher, there is no need for a monthly monitoring charge that you would pay if you were to contract a alarm company. SafeAlertís advantages for ATMs are:

  • Increases usage of ATMs. With increased confidence concerning safety concerns at ATMs, the general public will feel more secure using the system consistently.
  • Builds a bankís image and improves customer confidence. This system, while increasing consumer safety, builds an institutionís image as a caring bank by decreasing the number of crimes committed against its customers.
  • Deters ATM crime. The more safeguards that are activated to help apprehend criminals the less likely assailants will be willing to risk the chance of being arrested.
  • Reduces areas of liability. By instituting all safeguards possible to consumers an institution is less liable.
  • Upgrades existing ATMs easily. The easier the system is to install to existing ATMs the more widely used they will become.
PREVENTION TIPS

General Prevention Tips

When using an ATM, you should follow these tips:

  • Do not choose a PIN that is obvious such as your birth date or Social Security Number.
  • Get a list from your bank of ATM locations and keep it in the car.
  • Choose an ATM that feels safe even if it is a few miles out of your way.
  • Treat an ATM card as though it were money.
  • Use ATMs that are in well-lighted, open, high-traffic areas such as those at grocery or convenience stores.
  • Do not argue or fight with a robber; just give up the cash.
  • Do not try to follow the robber. Call the police instead and give them a description of the robber.
  • When you arrive at an ATM, look around. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop. Either use an ATM at a different location or come back later.
  • Be alert for anything suspicious, especially two or more people in a nearby vehicle, with no one else at the ATM. Also be alert to anyone who appears to be "hanging" around the area.
  • If you sense something wrong, leave the area immediately and use another ATM.
  • Have everything ready before you approach an ATM; have your card ready, know your code, and fill out your deposit envelope before approaching the ATM.
  • Do not write your code on your ATM card. Memorize your code.
  • Do not hold the door open for anyone; be rude.
  • Put your cash and receipt away immediately. Do not leave your receipt at the site because dishonest people can use that receipt to get your account number.
  • Do not count your money at the ATM or leave your cash exposed.
  • Always remember that you can easily cancel a transaction at any time.
  • Try not to use an ATM after dark. If you must, choose one that is well lit and does not have tall bushes nearby.
  • If you must go to the ATM after dark, go to one located inside an open business like a grocery store.
  • Don't give your PIN to others. This is the leading cause of theft.
  • If you must use an ATM after dark, have a friend go with you if possible.
  • Never accept help from a stranger at an ATM or allow yourself to become distracted when performing an ATM transaction.
  • When you leave the ATM and you feel someone is following you, walk or drive to the closest open business and call the proper authorities.
  • Report all ATM crimes to the local police and the financial institution.
At a Drive-Up ATM

When using a drive-up ATM, you should follow these tips:

  • Keep your car doors locked.
  • Keep all windows closed, except the one you are using.
  • Keep the car running.
  • Keep your eyes moving, watching the front, sides, and rear area. If someone approaches your vehicle on foot, cancel the transaction and leave.
At a Walk-Up ATM

When using a drive-up ATM, you should follow these tips:

  • Stay alert. Use ATMs with convex mirrors so you can easily see the entire facility when entering, as well as while banking. You can also see someone approaching from behind.
  • If there is anyone who looks suspiciousófor example, people at phone booths, bus stops, in parked cars, or loitering nearbyófind another ATM.
  • Protect your PIN. Do not enter your PIN if anyone else can see the screen or keypad. Use your body to shield your PIN from onlookers.
  • Stand directly in front of the ATM to block the view of others. You do not want anyone to see your code or how much money you are withdrawing.
  • When waiting in line, wait well behind the person using the ATM.
  • When you are using the ATM and someone is closer than you would like, ask them to step back a few steps. If they do not step back, it may be best to cancel the transaction and go to another ATM.
  • If someone else is using the ATM, stay alert to your surroundings.
CONCLUSION

The use of ATMs is increasing and the opportunity to commit crimes against ATM users is also on the rise. Banks are making an attempt to protect their customers from criminals. The technology being implemented today might deter a crime from occurring in the future. Whether the technology is the eye-recognition technology, the SafeAlert system, or some other system implemented in the future, customers will eventually feel safer.

The safety tips suggested for the customerís well being are very useful. With these tips ATM users should be secure in knowing that they do not have to become a victim.

Works Cited

1. "Banks Offer More Versatile ATMs But Consumers Want More Safety" August 8, 1998.

2. Paul Davidson, "ATMs would ID consumers by eye," USA Today August 3, 1998

3. Paul Davidson, "ATMs would ID consumers by eye," USA Today August 3, 1998

4. "The SafeAlert Solution", October 23, 1998

5. "The SafeAlert Solution: Product Description", October 23, 1998

6. "The SafeAlert Solution", October 23, 1998

7. "The SafeAlert Solution: Product Description", October 23, 1998