ATM Security and Fraud Prevention: How to Secure Your ATM

There was a time when ATM machines were targeted by criminals only for the cash inside. However, modern ATMs house something else that’s just as valuable as the cash: consumer data.

An ATM doesn’t store any customer information. But, it does collect it and transmit consumer data. This presents a challenge for ATM owners, because they now must secure their machines against multiple types of attacks.

The good news is that ATM machine manufacturers have developed technology to protect against modern ATM attacks and fraud. And, it’s relatively simple to secure your ATM machines, if you know what to do.

Solid ATM security protects you, your ATM customers, and the banks.

Obviously, protecting your equipment and cash is a big deal. But, a secure ATM machine also protects your customer credit or debit card information. And, it helps shield the bank against fraudulent charges and reputation damage, since many consumers will blame their bank for security breaches, rather than the independent ATM owner.

There are a lot of benefits to properly securing your ATMs. So, here’s what you need to know to keep your ATMs safe.

ATM attacks

ATM attacks are separated into two broad categories: physical attacks and logical attacks.

Physical attacks are a simple attempt to smash the ATM machine and break open the cash vault. The term “simple” is accurate here, since most criminals try something like ramming a truck into the ATM or the wall that the ATM machine sits against inside a building.

Logical attacks are more sophisticated and rely on electronic devices to breach the software or hardware of the machine. Logical attacks extract cash by taking control of the machine or causing it to malfunction.

Even though they extract money differently, most logical attacks still require some physical breach of the case to gain access to the circuitry. So, defending against logical attacks is still mostly a matter of physically securing your machine.

Let’s talk about how you do that.

ATM security: How to protect your ATM machines

The best way to keep your ATM machines safe is to use a layered approach. If one security measure fails, a second security measure should be there to back it up.

Here’s how to layer your ATM security.

Security Cameras for Your ATM Machine

ATM location

The first security measure should be the ATM location. Often, just the placement of your ATM is enough to deter an attacker.

Clearly, you need to avoid isolated or poorly lit areas. But, also consider other aspects of your ATM location.

  • Gas stations, convenience stores, and pawn shops are great for getting lots of transactions. But, these locations also experience higher crime rates than many establishments. 

    If you put an ATM in one of these businesses, work with the owner to get your ATM placed inside, away from large windows, and against a wall with limited exposed surface area on the outside. Also, make sure that your ATM is covered by security cameras.

  • Place your ATM machines so that physical access to the case is limited. 

    Logical attacks require a breach through a seam in the case or the cash dispenser. If your ATM is in a corner or alcove that limits access to the sides of your machine, it’s much more difficult to establish the necessary breach for a logical attack.

  • Place your ATM where users can be easily observed. 

    It takes much longer to breach an ATM machine than it does to make a standard transaction. So, it’s best if the business staff can see people using the ATM. That way they can intervene if someone seems to be tinkering with your machine.

  • Scout the area before you install your ATM.

    It’s not that you can’t place an ATM in areas with a higher crime risk. But, you need to know what the area is like, so you can take appropriate security measures. Take some time to check out the surrounding neighborhoods before you get your ATM up and running.

Choosing a location might be the easiest part of securing your ATM. It’s not difficult. You just need to consider all the security risks.

Bolt your ATM down

Bolt ATM in Floor

This one is super obvious. And, bolting your machine down is easy.

However, business owners may have some concerns about you drilling into their floor. Getting permission to bolt your ATM machine down can be much trickier than the process of installing the bolts.

The key is to help the business owner understand that bolting the ATM machine down benefits them, too. They certainly don’t want people committing crimes in their establishment. That’s bad publicity. The establishment could lose business from customers who need to get cash for their purchase while the ATM is being replaced or is out of service.

Also explain that the bolts do very little damage to their floor. Typically, you’ll secure your machine with four half-inch bolts. And, you can hammer the bolts into the floor and cover them with epoxy once the ATM is removed. If the floor is tile, you can replace the tile that you drilled through to completely cover the marks.

Bolting down your ATM is all upside for both you and the business owner. You just need to help the business owner understand that.

ATM Enclosure via TPI TexasHarden your ATM case

Logical attacks require access to the mainboard or other internal electronics. Most criminals will breach the top of the case to access the mainboard, or a seam on the side of the case to access cabling between the mainboard and the dispenser.

So, fill the seams if they’re not reinforced already. Or, place an internal barrier between the case and the critical electrical components. That way, even if they’re able to open a small crack in the case, a secondary barrier will help prevent the criminal from accessing anything vital.

Finally, if you use an ATM vaulting service or have an employee who restocks your machines, limit the number of people who have keys, and change the keys periodically, if you can. 

Digital security

Many logical attacks rely on outdated software. There are plenty of technologies that didn’t exist when some older ATM machines were manufactured. Older software often has no safeguards against modern logical attacks. So, criminals will target machines with software security holes.

The simplest way to digitally secure your ATM machines is to keep the software updated. The upcoming Windows 10 update will force an update of many older ATM machines. But, establish a schedule to keep your software current.

ATM insurance

ATM insurance must be your last resort. Even though it will help you recoup any losses from an ATM theft, losing your ATM machine or the cash inside is not ideal.

However, carrying insurance to protect your investment is smart. It’s difficult to make your ATMs impervious to attacks. Your ATM insurance protects you in the unlikely event that all your other security layers fail.

But, if you take the proper steps to secure your ATM machines, you’ll greatly reduce your risk of an ATM attack or ATM fraud. And, your ATMs will safely rake in money without any issues.

How to Choose an ATM Processor

Learn How to Choose an ATM Processor

Whether you’re just starting your ATM business or you’ve got machines already, your ATM processor has a big impact on the long term profitability and success of your business. So, knowing how to choose an ATM processor is vital information for new ATM owners and owners looking to switch ATM processors.

It’s not enough that your ATM processor just transfers money to the right account on time. You want an ATM processor that’s going to provide ongoing support and assistance beyond simply processing transactions.

If you call your ATM processor for help with ATM programming and setup, and your ATM processor says, “Hey, we just send the money where it needs to go. You’re on your own,” that’s not helpful. Your ATM processor should behave like a good business partner, not just a service provider.

So, what services should your ATM processor offer? Here’s what to look for as you evaluate ATM processors.

What Your ATM Processor Should Do for You

There are some obvious things that an ATM processor should do. But, there are nuances, even with the essentials.

ATM Sales

How to Choose an ATM Processor - ATM Sales

A company can certainly function solely as an ATM processor. However, there’s an upside to working with a processor that also sells ATM machines: you know the machines you get from your ATM processor can process using their service.

It wouldn’t make sense for an ATM processor to sell you an ATM that’s incompatible with their service. A processor that also sells machines is especially handy if they sell used or refurbished ATM machines. You get machines at a better price, without the headache of potential compatibility issues with your ATM processor.

Automated Payments

How to Choose an ATM Processor - Automated Payments

Obviously, your ATM processor needs to send your money to your bank account. But, it should actually be much easier than transferring money from your checking account to your savings account on your bank’s website.

Automated Payments

First, your ATM payments should be automated. Or, you should at least have the option to automated payments. The ATM business is all about building passive income. If you have to initiate transfers yourself, it makes your income less passive.

Automated payments might seem like small potatoes. But, it’s actually important in terms of choosing an ATM processor that provides service that aligns with your business goals.

Payment Splitting

If you need payments sent to multiple accounts for any reason—because you have a business partner with a separate account, because you have multiple accounts to deal with different expenses, or anything else—it’s easiest if your ATM processor can split your payments for you.

Yes, you can split those payments yourself using online banking. But, again, this makes your income system less passive.

So, look at the options for payment processing that your ATM processor offers, and make sure you’re working with a processor that’s going to help you build an ATM business that meets your goals.

ATM Vaulting

How to Choose an ATM Processor - ATM Vaulting

As you know, keeping your ATMs stocked with cash is vital to keeping your business humming.

Now, there are a few options for ATM vaulting:

  1. You can do it yourself. Just get the cash, and take it to your ATMs to restock all your machines. This is the most profitable way to vault your ATMs since it doesn’t add any overhead to your business.

    If you vault your ATMs yourself, it’s most convenient if your ATM processor provides monitoring services that alert you when one of your machines is low on funds.
  2. You can get the location owner to do it. This is a good option, since the business owner is there frequently, maybe every day. And, they have a vested interest in the security of the ATM because they’re stocking it with cash from their register. Additionally, this minimizes your workload.

Clearly, the business owner will want to be compensated for their efforts. But, it’s often a worthwhile expense.

  1. You can have your ATM processor vault your ATMs for you. This takes the responsibility of vaulting your ATMs off your plate completely.

Whether or not you use this service from your ATM processor, it’s a good option to have. You may have ATMs that are in locations which are difficult to refill yourself, or if you want an armored truck service to protect your cash, having your ATM processor vault your ATMs may be the best option.

Now, your ATM processor will charge you for this service. This is the crux of choosing whether or not to have your ATM processor vault your ATMs. The service shouldn’t be so expensive that it kills all your profit. Around $1.00 per transaction is reasonable and manageable. In any case, make sure that the cost works for your ATM business model.

In the end, you don’t need to use your ATM processor’s vaulting services. However, working with an ATM processor that offers ATM vaulting can help expand the potential locations for your ATMs and reduce the workload of keeping them full of cash.

ATM Installation and Setup Support

How to Choose an ATM Processor - ATM Installation

Getting ATM locations is largely a sales process. But, ATM setup and programming is a more technical process. It’s also the part where many ATM owners get hung up.

So, it’s important that you work with an ATM processor that provides instructions for setting up and programming your ATMs. And, it’s important that you can call your ATM processor for free if you get stuck and need help.

You lose money for every day that your ATM isn’t functioning. So, it’s important that your ATM processor is there to help you overcome challenges in the setup process and get your ATMs up and running.

Alternatively, a quality ATM processor will offer to send a technician to install an ATM in a new location for you. This isn’t free. But, it will save you a lot of time and headaches, especially when you’re new to the ATM business.

Just like the ATM vaulting service, you shouldn’t be required to use your ATM processor’s setup service. But, it can be a good way to get some ATMs going while you’re still learning the ropes of ATM setup and programming.

Service Agreement Templates

How to Choose an ATM Processor - Service Agreement Templates

Creating your own service agreement from scratch is a bad idea. You’ll most likely end up leaving something out. Then your service agreement won’t properly protect you if something goes wrong between you and the location owner. Obviously, this can be very bad.

A good way to avoid this problem, without hiring a lawyer, is to use templates. This way, you can create a service agreement that’s customized to the situation, without leaving anything out.

Service agreement templates will save you a lot of money in legal consulting fees and long-term losses from botched service agreements. So, an ATM processor that offers service agreement templates makes it easier and less expensive to get the paperwork done and get your ATM machines up and running.

Low Fees and Shorter Contracts

There are ATM processors that sell new ATMs at an impressively low price. It seems like a great deal at first.

However, most companies that discount their ATM machines wrap up a lot of fees in their service. You might save a few hundred upfront. But, the ATM processor gets that money back through fees over time.

Often, companies that make money on slightly higher fees will require 3 to 5-year contracts. Longer contract requirements ensure that the fees cover the cost of the discounted ATM machine. If you sign a 5-year contract, the fees could end up being more than the initial discount you got on the ATM machine.

ATM processors that charge slightly higher prices for their ATM machines usually have a lower fee structure. And, these ATM processors usually offer shorter contracts, in the range of 1 to 3 years. They can offer shorter contracts because they don’t need to make up for discounted ATM machines.

So, look at potential ATM processor fee structures and contract requirements, and consider how much those fees are going to cost you over the life of the contract.

Flexibility

How to Choose an ATM Processor - Support Flexibility

The last thing is flexibility and support. Your ATM processor should be responsive and easy to work with. If you can’t get the help you need, when you need it, your ATM processor isn’t helping you much.

It’s best if your ATM processor offers some sort of 24/7 support. You never know when you’ll need help with your machines. So, your ATM processor should offer anytime support for their services.

As we mentioned earlier, your ATM processor should be more like a business partner than a service provider. Availability and responsiveness are key to getting this sort of partnership from your ATM processor.

Last step: Choose an ATM Processor

Ultimately, the ATM processor you choose is one of the first major decisions in your ATM business. You’re already on the right track by reading about how to choose an ATM Processor. You’ll be working with that processor for a year or more. So, you want to work with an ATM processor that’s going to support you and your business, in addition to processing transactions.

If you’re ready to compare ATM processors, start by checking out ATM Depot. ATM Depot offers complete support and education for everything from ATM purchase to installation and everything in between.

[VIDEO] Explosives Used to Break into Machine during ATM Robbery, Thieves Caught on HD Camera

On August 11, 2017, two criminals drove their SUV up to a Gas Station ATM Kiosk with a plan. They planned to execute an ATM robbery by blowing up the ATM with some sort of liquid explosive. It is clear from this video, it’s not the first time they are attempting this. They are wanted by the FBI. The authorities were very excited to see the quality of our security footage.

Authorities_On_Scene

Authorities at the Crime Scene of the ATM Robbery in San Diego, CA

When you start using explosives on an ATM, you attract a lot of attention. You get the local police, sheriffs, SWAT, the Bomb Squad, ATF, and the FBI involved. That’s a lot of manpower hunting you down.

These guys are wanted by the FBI. It’s not just a local crime.  Is a few grand worth having to hide and run for the rest of your life? I don’t think so.

The suspects think they got away with it. However, as time will tell, and with the help of this HD video, and the enhancement tools Federal Law Enforcement agencies have available, they will most likely do time behind bars for this ATM robbery.  Maybe they will save all the money they stole to pay for their lawyer. They will need it.

I’ve been in the ATM business since 1994. Since then, I’ve helped hundreds of Independent ATM Deployers (IAD’s) start, run, and maintain successful ATM businesses. I’ve personally sold or installed hundreds and hundreds of ATM machines. I currently manage thousands of machines and hundreds of thousands of ATM transactions nationwide and I’ve never, ever seen anything like this.

This location has been a customer of ours for over a decade. We’ve never had any issue until we installed a new kiosk.  While this small kiosk does not appear to be bomb proof, the old kiosk building we used previously onsite was. Unfortunately for us the gas station – car wash is undergoing a remodel and needed to demolish the building, so we had to move the ATM to the other side of the parking lot.

In order not to inhibit the authority’s investigation, we won’t go into the details of what the authorities knew in this article.

However, now that we know all the details we can help others.

So, if you plan to install a kiosk and you are one of our customers (or want to be), please contact our office for some additional help.

We learned an expensive lesson, so we hope to use it to educate our customers.

ATM Depot can certainly help you avoid the same fate. We thought we prepared for every security scenario but they proved us wrong on this one. The key is that we learned an awful lot from this and can now assist our customers even better when dealing with outdoor ATMs.

**** UPDATE ****

September 28, 2017

After many calls between the account manager, Jeremy, and the FBI and ATF, on this situation, we learned that the authorities were able to issue a subpoena at the home of Scott Michael Petri. We are not sure how all this went down but we speculate that the FBI was able to leverage the information obtained in the video of the ATM robbery. According to law enforcement, one of the suspects bragged to a confidential informant about the crime. Upon serving a subpoena at the suspects home, the Law enforcement authorities say they found a drill, a gas cylinder, clothing and other incriminating evidence in his home that matched the items in the surveillance video during the crime.

Court documents allege (and video shows) Petri used a cordless drill to make two holes in the ATM machine’s housing. A second unidentified suspect (now in custody) approached the ATM with an open flame (see video, looks like a cigarette) and lit a fuse.  The suspects drove to the other side of the gas station and the ATM exploded. See the entire ATM robbery (edited for time) in the video above.

Suspect_Searching

The suspect (circled) is searching for the cash box after the ATM robbery explosion

The August robbery was the second time this year an explosive device was used on an ATM in San Diego, according to the FBI.

**** UPDATE ****

October 5, 2017

Scott Michael Petri faces a charge of using an explosive to damage property relating to a robbery at the Chevron Station and Pit Stop Car Wash on Miramar Road just south of the 15 Freeway entrance. The suspect was picked up and booked on October 5th and transferred into Federal custody and is being held in the Federal Prison in Downtown San Diego by the ATF. Bail has been set at $250,000.

ATM_Suspect_Arrested

Public arrest records for Scott Michael Petri. One of the suspects in the ATM robbery.

Chose the Right ATM Processing

Chose the Right ATM ProcessingThere are many ways to get an ATM machine. You can purchase one from a reputable ATM company, buy a used one off eBay, get one online, etc.

Read more

How to Load an ATM Machine

How to Load an ATM Machine

Some of the most frequent questions about the ATM Machine business is How do you load an ATM Machine with Cash and the follow up question is how much does it hold.

The answer to how much cash does an ATM Machine hold really depends on the type of ATM Machine and the type of Cash Cassette. There are fixed cassette ATM machines (meaning non-removable) these are typically in lower end ATM machines designed for low volume locations (can also be upgraded when ordering). Then there are removable cassettes ATM Machines in all sorts of configurations from small Triton TDM (see video below) to the Mini Mech and the SDD or multi cassette machines for multiple denominations.

In retail locations you mostly see the TDM or the Talaris dispensers (formerly De La Rue SDD or De La Rue MiniMech). All of these are easy to load but have different capacities as well as longevity based on use (volume of transactions). Most retail based ATM Machines only have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars and are loaded and unloaded daily to reduce the temptation of ATM theft  from stupid criminals.

See how easy it is to own and operate an ATM Machine. Watch this Video to find out how to load cash in a Triton ATM Machine with a TDM dispenser.

Have Questions?  Call our toll free number at 888-50-5246 or contact us today.