GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A rumor that’s been making the rounds on the Internet for several years contains some seemingly ingenious advice for foiling a robbery attempt at an ATM.

Viewer Amy Cox asked the KARE 11 Verify team whether the instructions she recently stumbled across on Facebook could possibly be true.

She even sent along this screen capture of the post, which advises would-be victims to stay calm and not resist.

Facebook post about ATM robberies. 
Facebook post about ATM robberies. 

But when entering your PINs on the keypad, the Facebook post suggested you type it in backwards. Say that your PIN is 1234, put it in as 4321. It claimed that trick will cause your money to jam the cash slot while the machine secretly alerts police and photographs the suspect.

The robber flees, so the story goes, your hard-earned cash is safe and police have evidence that could eventually lead to an arrest. Sounds too good to be true? It is.

But like many urban myths and Internet hoaxes, there are just enough grains of truth to make you wonder if it just might be real.

In fact, our research shows a Chicago businessman patented a technology for so-called ATM “panic buttons” in 1998 and Congress ordered a study a few years later to determine whether such devices were in use, and if so, would they likely help prevent robberies? The answer to both questions was no.

So, what can Amy and others do to make themselves less-enticing targets for ATM bandits? For the answer, we turned to Corey M. Schmidt, a Minneapolis police officer and a spokesman for the department.

Most important, he told us, is to do what is asked. “Your safety is far more important than a few hundred dollars,” Schmidt says.

He also recommends that ATM customers use machines located in open businesses or well-lit, well-traveled areas, and to call 911 if you spot any suspicious behavior.

The good news is that robberies at ATM machines are relatively rare, according to one industry trade group, occurring about once in every million transactions.


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