automatic teller machines

Discarding Used ATMs

atm6 copy1 Discarding Used 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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The Origins of the ATM Part 2

When Did the ATM come to the United States The Origins of the ATM Part 2

When Did the ATM come to the United States?

When our last post ended, the automatic teller machine had made its successful premiere in the United Kingdom. Across the Atlantic Ocean, however, Americans were still largely unaware that this kind of technology could even exist. However, Don Wetzel, the Vice President of Product Planning at the now-defunct Texas technology firm Docutel, was about to change that.

In 1968, Don Wetzel was standing inside a bank in Dallas, waiting in line, imagining what life would be like if people did not have to wait in lines in banks. Then, all of a sudden, he could see it in his mind: the automatic teller machine.

Wetzel’s employer provided five million dollars to develop this idea. Two engineers at the company, Tom Barnes and George Chastain, worked with Wetzel to develop the product. The ATM was not such a great leap for Docutel, though, as it had worked extensively on creating automatic luggage transportation systems for airports.

The ATM prototype was finished about a year later, and Wetzel, Chastain and Barnes received the patent for this device in 1973. Several banks claim to have been the first to install this machine, but Wetzel has stated that the distinction belongs to a Chemical Bank branch in Rockville Centre, New York. Chemical Bank advertised the debut of this machine in a clever way. It announced in ads that it would open at nine a.m. on September 2, 1969, and that it would “never close again.”

Chemical Bank called its ATM the Docuteller. The machine could only dispense cash, and it was not connected to the bank’s network of computers. Unfortunately, the bank installed the machine outside. The machine was not waterproof. The bank tried to protect it from rainwater by setting up a canopy. The canopy was too high. The soaked machine suffered massive damage.

ATMs began sprouting up all over the place. That’s not to say there weren’t some snags in those early years, though. Just imagine the following issues:

  • For some banks, the cost of the initial ATMs was prohibitively high.
  • Many banks would only allow their best customers – those with the most sterling financial histories and records – to touch these machines.
  • Until 1972, a bank customer could not use an ATM unless he or she had a credit card.
  • Some customers were puzzled by the ATM at first. In Texas, an ATM refused to give money to a certain bank customer. That customer got so mad he pulled out a gun and shot the machine. Luckily, it was bulletproof.

Little by little, the ATM improved. Docutel put out a total ATM in 1971, one that could transfer money from one account to another, send money to credit card accounts, and so on. Wetzel, Chastain and Barnes also got to work on ATM cards equipped with magnetic strips. These strips proved so effective that they became standard on credit cards.

In 1995, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History officially designated Don Wetzel the inventor of the ATM, despite several people having made that claim over the years. In many ways, it’s astonishing to think about what a contribution Wetzel made to society. Today, there are more than 1.8 million automatic teller machines in existence. That number increases constantly. In fact, about once every five minutes a new ATM opens for business. The average American uses his or her ATM card between six and eight times every single month.

Of course, when you consider these statistics, you might reflect on that poor, solitary ATM in Rockville Centre, New York, standing outside, getting wet in the rain.

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Smart ATMs

How Smart is An ATM?

How Smart is An ATM Smart ATMs

Thanks to digital technology, automatic teller machines, like so many gadgets we use in our daily lives, are getting smarter all the time. A few years ago, the only relationship between ATMs and smartphones was the fact that you could use a phone app to locate the nearest ATM. Now, however, smartphone apps in many instances are replacing ATM cards altogether.

Consider, for example, the ATM program that the self-service software company NCR has introduced recently. ATM users who have smartphones with cameras can approach an ATM and complete the following process:

  • Activate their NCR app
  • Enter their PIN number on their phone
  • Choose the account from which they want to withdraw money and the dollar amount of that withdrawal
  • Scan the QR code that the ATM screen displays

After doing these things, the money comes out and a receipt is sent directly to the smartphone. NCR says that this withdrawal should take a customer about ten seconds. It helps people avoid the threat of skimming, and takes away the fear that they might lose their ATM card or have it stolen.

Diebold, an Ohio-based company that also specializes in self-service systems, has likewise found a way to combine smartphones and ATMs to eliminate the need for an ATM card. Their program works in a way similar to NCR’s:

  • An ATM user scans the QR card on a smartphone.
  • An ATM screen appears on the phone, allowing that person to choose a dollar amount to withdraw.
  • A code appears, which the customer types on the screen of the ATM.

The cash is dispensed, and transactions are complete when customers receive the electronic receipt on their phones. Note that customers receive different codes every time they use this system; as soon as a transaction has gone through, that code is voided. This system not only makes ATM transactions more convenient for customers, but it benefits banks as well, in that it uses a cloud server rather than a bank’s computer. As a result, banks don’t need to use as much power on any given day. Further, banks do not have to pay for paper and printer ink to print out receipts.

The Diebold system also allows people to use their smartphones to “wire” money to others. Let’s say your son is on a spring break trip and loses his wallet and all his cash, and he has no bank account from which to withdraw money. All you have to do under such circumstances is use your ATM app to select an amount of money to withdraw. You will receive a code which you can send to your son’s smartphone. He can then go to an ATM, enter that code and withdraw the amount of cash you selected. Again, this code is a one-time-only code.

It may surprise you to learn that banks generally do not have to do much work in order to make their ATMs compatible with smartphones. In most cases, all a bank must do is update its ATM software and add a barcode scanner to each machine.

In the future, automatic teller machines might become even more interactive. The aforementioned company NCR is teaming up with a company headquartered in Utah called uGenius Technology to develop ATMs with video screens. These screens allow customers  interact with bank tellers; the tellers are on hand to guide ATM customers through complicated transactions – transactions which, in the past, usually required speaking with a real live teller at a bank. If this technology catches on, it might mean that bank branches will not need to hire as many tellers, as a smaller number of tellers will work in central locations and help customers remotely.

 

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Outrageous ATM Glitches

Can ATM glitches affect you?

Outrageous ATM Glitches Outrageous ATM Glitches

You can breathe a sigh of relief to know that the chance of something going wrong when you use an automatic teller machine is very small. But even though ATM glitches rarely happen, when they do occur they can be significant. In fact, some recent ATM issues might leave you shaking your head, and might leave bank managers trembling in fear.

Types of Outrageous ATM Glitches

When banks adopt new technologies, ATM problems sometimes result. For instance:

  • June 19, 2012, a computer glitch caused by a change in company software prevented the Royal Bank of Scotland from making any payments to its customers, including payments through ATM’s. Even though the offending glitch was fixed almost right away, it spurred a chain reaction of events that led to inoperable ATM’s, among many other banking issues. These problems lasted for days and affected millions of people.
  • Bank of America, which operates the U.S.’s largest network of automatic teller machines, also had a recent brush with ATM glitches caused by new technology. In the mid-2000’s, Bank of America began introducing ATM’s with scanning systems; these machines scan checks and deposit them into accounts. However, a number of these new devices refused to recognize certain checks, or did not follow through with the process of actually depositing the value of a check into a customer’s account. In a few isolated incidents, the machines completely shredded customers’ debit cards. No long-term damage was done, however; Bank of America took care of everyone who registered a complaint about these machines. And the vast majority of Bank of America’s new ATM’s worked without a hitch. Still, these incidents serve as reminders that bank customers always need to examine their bank statements to make sure they have the correct amount of money in their various accounts.

Natural disasters and mass panic can also bring about ATM glitches. In the aftermath of the terrible Japanese tsunami of 2011, thousands of ATM’s were out of order for hours. For at least one bank, Mizuho, the malfunctioning ATM’s were caused by an enormous uptick of customers trying to withdraw money from these machines.

On the other hand, sometimes ATM’s please customers too much. In 2009, Ronald Page, a retired autoworker in Detroit, found that a broken ATM in his home city was allowing him to take out all the money he wanted. So he took out $1.5 million, and he brought that cash to several casinos. He lost the entire amount. Later, prosecutors charged him with theft, and sought to have him jailed for 15 months. The lesson here: unlike in the board game Monopoly, when it comes to ATM’s in real life, there’s no such thing as an “error in your favor.” Therefore, if an ATM gives you more money than you know you have in your account, or if you go up to an ATM and find someone else’s money lying around, report the issue to a bank manager with the extra cash in hand. It’s not worth going jail over a mistake that wasn’t even yours to begin with.

Perhaps the most common “glitch” that occurs at ATM’s isn’t really a glitch at all. It’s called the “cash retract.” If you order a certain amount of cash from an ATM, but you don’t take that cash out right away, then that money will shoot back inside the ATM after 30 seconds. Imagine this scenario: you order $50 in cash from an ATM inside a bank. But just as the money is coming out, your young child runs away from you, and you have to chase her throughout the bank to retrieve her. You return more than 35 seconds later only to find your $50 is not there – it’s returned to the cash dispenser inside the machine. Yet it’s likely you’ll still have that $50 deducted from your account. What you should do in such a situation is let a bank employee know about it right away, so you can be sure that you’ll be reimbursed.

In fact, that really is an important message to repeat and to end on: whenever you are the victim of any kind of ATM glitch, notify your bank immediately, as doing so offers you the best chance of getting fully and promptly compensated.

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ATM Machines, A Buyer’s Guide

ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide (Part 1) 

atm buyers guide ATM Machines, A Buyer’s GuideOur hope is that this ATM Machine Buyer’s Guide helps you navigate some of the known pitfalls in the business. This will be a three part series. Be sure to click the next part in the series at the bottom of each post when you’re ready to proceed.

All kinds of businesses now maintain automatic teller machines, including supermarkets and  restaurants. That’s because ATM’s offer several benefits to business owners.

When you set up an ATM inside your establishment, you may see a spike in the number of your customers. And, with that source of money at hand, some of your customers may be inclined to spend more money. In addition, you might also find that you start receiving fewer checks which means less risk at the point of sale. Of course, you’ll also end up paying fewer processing fees for credit cards as well. But what things should you know before you go out and purchase one or more of these machines?

First, do some research and a few calculations before you contact an ATM vendor. Figure out, roughly, how many people come into your business on an average day. If that number is fewer than 150, and certainly if it’s fewer than 100, getting an ATM may not have an attractive ROI, however the other benefits may be what you’re looking for.  Just because you have minimal traffic in your location doesn’t mean your ATM won’t be worth the investment.

We’ve been in the ATM business for over 2 decades now and we’ve seen over the past few years that the general rule of thumb for the number of monthly transactions that your ATM will perform is relative to the the number of people that come into your establishment plus or minus a factor of 10% – 15% depending on the location, type of establishment and several other factors.

If for example you have a high end restaurant with table cloths and a bar, your ATM machine will perform much lower than these averages since this type of clientele typically pays with a credit card. If however you have a quick service restaurant, a bar and grill, local tavern, a nightclub or even a commercial building or parking lot we have seen these types of locations do very well, especially if the business does not accept credit cards. We have also seen customers convert from credit and debit cards to ATM usage with the implementation of coupons or other incentives for use.

One of the best ways to tell if buying an ATM for your location is right for you is to speak to your customers. Ask them if they’d be interested in using an ATM if you had one at your place, or if you often get requests or if customers ask where the nearest ATM machines is, that is a good indication that it would be a wise investment.  Obviously, if you get some positive feedback from your clients, you can advance to the next step: figuring out what kind of automatic teller machine to purchase.

tranax1700 sm1 ATM Machines, A Buyer’s GuideThe most common kind of ATM is the kind that stands up on its own, also known as a “free standing ATM”.  These free standing ATM machines require approx 3 sq ft in front of them for ADA compliance (about 36″ for a wheel chair). The machines themselves have a very small foot print and run anywhere from 14″ x 14″ up to 20″ x 20″ still relatively very little floor space for the return on investment.  Even with the diminutive size of the newest free standing ATM machines, if you don’t think you have enough room, you might opt for some of the newest tabletop or counter top models.

Genmega GT3000 sm ATM Machines, A Buyer’s GuideAlternatively, you may even consider purchasing an ATM that’s inserted into a wall (also known as a Thru-the-Wall “TTW” model), although this is often a great option for a place of business to plan for during tenant improvements, it is still fairly easy to cut a hole in a wall and retrofit it for a TTW ATM. While these thru-the-wall ATM machines costs a little more than the free standing machines, they are perfect for exterior installations such as sidewalk facing locations or locations facing a parking lot or a busy downtown location.

These machines typically have much higher usage since they are exposed to walk by traffic 24 hours a day. If you are considering a TTW ATM, you’ll still need to consider space for the inside part of the ATM which is typically less than a free standing ATM since the ADA portion of the ATM is outside and usually unobstructed. While it is more expensive to install a TTW unit due to the additional construction costs you’ll also need to consider the timing of the install to minimize the noise and descriptiveness of the construction which can typically be completed in a weekend.

Another choice is the outdoor ATM. (These ATM’s may also be inserted into a wall.) Outdoor ATM’s can be used 24 hours a day, and therefore they let you collect ATM fees 24 hours a day! This option, obviously, will save you interior space, too. A downside to an outdoor ATM however, is that depending on the location, your outdoor ATM may require proper lighting so people will feel safe using the ATM; and, depending on the area, you may consider some sort of surveillance cameras. Most outdoor ATM machines are weather protected but if you want the highest possible usage, you’d be smart to consider some kind of protection from the weather for the ATM users, again depending on the type of deployment and the weather in the area. While outdoor ATM’s can be more expensive to keep up, they typically have much higher usage and therefor justify the expense.

Keeping your motivation in mind, this ATM Machine Buyer’s guide is meant to help you not only decide if an ATM is right for you as a business, but is it right for the location where you’re going to put it, and, will your customers use it. If you’re main motivation is to offset credit card fees, almost certainly a free standing ATM will help with that. If you’re motivation is to make more money just from the ATM usage, a thru-the-wall  machine available 24 hours will product much more profit in the right installation.

Your ATM decision-making process doesn’t stop there. A list of other questions you need to answer would include: See ATM Machines, A Buyer’s Guide part 2.

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Voice Activated ATMs and New ADA Requirements

Voice Activated ATMs and New ADA Requirements Voice Activated ATMs and New ADA Requirements

Voice-activated automatic teller machines were designed to help people with visual impairments, including some elderly people, make financial transactions. Not every blind person can read Braille, and so ATM’s equipped with Braille keypads don’t always suffice. In addition, Braille keypads may allow blind people to enter the information they need to, but they don’t provide a means of delivering directions to visually-impaired customers. So unless a blind person were to walk into a bank already knowing exactly how to use the ATM, it might not be possible for him or her to make transactions without assistance from a bank employee. And waiting in line to ask an employee for help can be time-consuming, not to mention embarrassing. Indeed, in the past, some visually-impaired people tended to avoid ATM’s altogether.

However, a voice-activated ATM solves most, if not all, of those problems. Such a machine works like this:

  • A customer plugs his or her headphones into the ATM’s universal audio jack.
  • The ATM’s voice activation system is triggered.
  • The machine begins to speak to the customer, giving instructions, telling him or her which keys need to be pressed in order to complete a certain transaction.
  • The automated voice may also explain how to use the ATM’s Braille keypad, in case that customer does know how to read Braille.

Voice-activated ATM’s are not new. Banks large and small began rolling out this technology early in the first decade of the twenty-first century. For example, all new ATM’s purchased by Australian banks since 2003 have been voice-activated; banks in that nation began installing voice-activated ATM’s as part of a pilot program in 2002. Also in 2002, Banknorth, a small American chain of banks with headquarters in Portland, Maine, began to install voice-activated ATM’s in 400 of its banks, a program that was completed in cooperation with the National Federation of the Blind. In the end, Banknorth – now TDB Banknorth – spent five years and almost five million dollars to get these machines operational.

TDB Banknorth and others may have voluntarily set up voice-activated ATM’s, but today doing so is no longer optional for financial institutions in the United States; it’s mandatory. That’s because, between 2004 and 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice handed down a series of rulings on the issue of voice-activated ATM’s. The result of these decisions was that, as a new stipulation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, all banks, credit unions and other financial institutions were required to install at least one voice-activated ATM in every location where they maintained ATM’s. The deadline for these installations was set at April 30, 2012 – the deadline had originally been March 15 of that year, but was extended to give banks enough time to purchase and install these devices. (These rulings came with other requirements for ATM’s as well, including guaranteed wheelchair access.)

It’s interesting to note that the estimated cost of a single voice-activated ATM can vary widely, depending on whether you ask a financial institution or you ask an advocacy group for the visually-impaired, such as the aforementioned National Federation for the Blind. But it’s somewhere between $1,000 and $10,000. Still, whatever the cost may be, most banks found it more economical to purchase entirely new machines rather than update old ATM’s with new software and processing capabilities.

Financial institutions which are not in compliance with the ADA’s voice-activated ATM standards risk lawsuits and other disciplinary measures. Still, in many parts of the country, some banks have yet to fully comply with the new law. In 2012, for instance, a visually-impaired, 30-year-old man name Robert Jahoda filed federal lawsuits against several banks in his home state of Pennsylvania, as well as a bank in Ohio, because they had not yet equipped their facilities with voice-activated ATM’s. Further, a Boston-based consumer protection website called Consumer World conducted a study one month after the voice-activated ATM law’s April 2012 deadline. Consumer World’s researchers traveled around Boston, plugging headphones into random samplings of ATMs all over the city. And the results of this survey were not too impressive: at least a quarter of the automatic teller machines that these researchers tried out did not have a voice activation capacity.

 

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ATM and Personal Security

 The Importants of ATM and Personal Security

ATM and Personal Security ATM and Personal Security

Automatic teller machines are cash dispensers and are a wonderful convenience item for those individuals who are busy with traveling or other life responsibilities and need access to cash in a hurry. But while they certainly can and do make life a little easier, they can also give pause to daily activities when using an ATM because there are other things other than fast cash that a person should consider for their own safety and personal security.

It is a common understanding in general that everyone needs to be careful for their safety when they’re using an ATM, but there are also some nuances that the person should be aware of as well. It’s important to be aware of small details regarding personal safety and security, but it’s also just as important to take the necessary steps that are required in order to protect a person’s physical body and his money. Here are a few tips in general of which it’s important to stay aware, but the tips will also list a few detailed tidbits of information in addition to the suggested item:

1. Avoid using any ATM if you are alone. Having someone to accompany you gives you more of a sense of security, and lessens the likelihood of someone approaching you that may have ill intentions. This also applies to if it’s day or night as well. It’s highly suggested to either take someone with you or choose to use the ATM when there is heavy foot traffic around the ATM.

2. Do not use ATM’s after dark, if possible. This is not a wise choice for either male or female, and the individual should make sure that they are not using any ATM that’s in a dark or poorly lit area. Also, avoid ATM’s that are flanked by walls, high bushes or even areas where there is none to little foot traffic. The more traffic there is around the area, the less likely there is for something to happen or someone to approach you. This also applies to using drive through ATM’s as well, although it may seem or appear to be a safe thing to do.

3. Examine your surroundings whenever you go to an ATM. Do this as you’re driving up to the machine in your car, walking up to the machine or even while you’re spotting the machine and are about to go up to it. Notice who’s around the area and whether or not they look like they “fit” in or if they’re standing idly by. If there are suspicious people or behavior going on around the ATM, do not use the machine and notify the authorities if the actions look like potential criminal activity may be going on.

4. Already have your card out and information ready to make the transaction once you approach the ATM unit. You don’t want to be looking and searching for anything once you’ve reached the ATM unit, and you certainly don’t want to be distracted just before you use the machine. Potential thieves can spot easy prey when they see a customer fumbling for their wallets or change purses, looking for their cards.

5. Protect your ATM card pin number, and also shield that PIN number while you’re making the transaction. This further ensures that no one can “phish” your information or gain access to your ATM account.

For the most part, ATM’s are very safe and secure to use, although nothing is guaranteed. However, it’s best to have in place as much safety and security plans in order to ensure your personal security. To ensure this, stay diligent and aware of your surroundings at all times, as well as security possibilities that may not, but can, occur.

 

 

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