Discarding Used ATMs

Discarding ATMs

What are the Right and Wrong Ways to Dispose of an ATM You No Longer Need?

Automatic teller machines, by and large, have a lifespan lasting between seven and ten years. Not due to them wearing out but due to technological advances and new laws requiring ATM upgrades.

If you’ve just purchased a new ATM for your place of business due to the voice guidance text to speech ADA guidelines, and you want to get rid of (decommission) an old, obsolete ATM, you have to think carefully about how to do so. It’s a really bad idea to just take it to the town dump.

For one thing, the various electronic parts of an ATM make it hazardous to the environment. Another problem is that thieves and hackers who come across a thrown-away ATM could bring it home, or even just bring parts of it home, may figure out what information is on it, how to use it to harm you, or even how the various security systems work.

This could lead to discovery of new methods for harming your business, or breaking into these machines to steal passwords and customer account information. This is a practice known as “reverse engineering.” The idea that criminals would do such a thing is not mere speculation, either. Some would-be thieves have already been apprehended in junkyards trying to do so. As a business owner, you could be found liable in court if you were to discard an ATM improperly and as a result your customers’ accounts were compromised.

The ATM Industry Association – an influential international trade group that was founded in 1997 and includes more than 1300 members – considers the problem of discarded ATMs to be so serious that it created a detailed guide on how to throw these machines away. Called “Best Practices for Decommissioning ATMs,” this white paper was issued in early 2011 and is available to ATMIA members.

When it comes to the best practices for decommissioning ATMs, discarded ATM’s are an especially ripe target for crooks. The Encrypted PIN Pad (EPP) is the most vulnerable. The EPP is the piece of technology that encrypts – encodes so as to disguise – customers’ personal identification numbers as they use ATM’s. Hackers want to get their hands on EPPs, learn how they work, and find out what their vulnerabilities are. Therefore, ATM owners should disable, or even better, completely destroy an EPP before getting rid of an ATM.

What Can I Do with My Old ATM?

The best measure of all to take, is to call a professional ATM scrap business to throw away your ATM for you. This way, you can be positive that your old EPP is of no value to hackers. In addition, the discarding professionals will make sure that all environmental laws are followed throughout the entire process. For instance, they’ll know how to properly remove and separate the ATM’s metal parts, plastic parts and cables so that each group may be recycled properly.

If you run a small place of business, you might find that the cost of ATM disposal is something of a burden. You can alleviate the cost, however, by trading in your old ATM. Many ATM vendors, both physical stores and online sellers, offer money for used ATMs, or for certain parts of used ATMs. Note that you’ll have a much easier time trading in your used ATM if the machine is five years old or younger. If your ATM becomes obsolete, it will be difficult to trade in. Further, no matter how reputable the enterprise that’s taking your ATM, always destroy the ATM’s PIN pad and hard drive (if any) before turning it over.

It’s also wise to try to negotiate a free disposal before you purchase a new ATM. That is, whenever you’re shopping for a new automatic teller machine, ask the vendors you’re considering buying an ATM from if they’d be willing to take away your old ATM, free of charge, when you’re finished with it. If acceptable, have them include that promise in writing.

To be safe, simply remove all electronic components such as the mother board, memory, processing chips, keypad and other electronic components. Once the keypad and electronic components are properly destroyed the steel enclosure can be recycled by a scrap metal yard.

Finally, ATMs that are no longer in use, that you’re planning to throw away at some point, should be guarded just as securely as ATMs in active use. Be sure to remove the keypad and any storage device such as the motherboard to include the memory and processing chip before simply putting it in the back room or out near a dumpster.  When in doubt, contact your local professional recycling company.

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