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ATM Robberies

ATM Robberies

You Can Never Be to Cautious

Generally speaking, automatic teller machines are very safe to use, and there’s no reason to be alarmed at the prospect of getting robbed at an ATM. Still, it always makes sense to be cautious. First, you be aware of the four different categories of ATM robbery.

  1.  A robber approaches a person using an ATM and forces this victim to remove cash and give it to him.
  2.  A robber orders a victim to give him his ATM card and PIN number, so that the robber may withdraw cash from an ATM on his own. This kind of robbery, of course, could occur far away from an actual ATM.
  3. A robber stakes out a particular ATM. Then, when someone withdraws money from that ATM, the robber follows her, and at some point demands that she give him that amount of money.
  4.  A robber abducts someone and brings that person to an ATM so the victim can withdraw cash and hand it over. This is the rarest kind of ATM robbery.

If someone brandishes a weapon, or even suggests that he has a weapon on his person, and orders you to take money out of your ATM and give it to him, or to give him your ATM card and PIN number, you should never try to fight back. Keep in mind that about 15% of ATM robbery victims are injured, and injuries most often occur when victims resist their robbers. Remember, too, that the average ATM robber only gets away with about one or two hundred dollars, as so many ATM robbers are drug addicts who just want some money to get their fix. That’s a sum of money for which it’s certainly not worth risking injury or worse. You should also refrain from trying to run away or trying to somehow outsmart a robber. Instead, follow the robber’s instructions until this person is out of sight, and then contact the police immediately. If you can, try to remember exactly what the robber and the robber’s vehicle – if there is one – look like so you can give accurate descriptions to the police.

At some point in the 2000’s decade, an urban legend about ATM robberies began to circulate, and this information was widely spread via email. It said that if you are being robbed at an ATM, you should enter your PIN number backwards, as when you do that, an ATM will dispense the amount of money you ask for, but at the same time it will alert police officers that a crime is taking place at that exact location. It’s not clear precisely how or where this rumor got started, but it is not true. Entering your ATM PIN number backwards accomplishes nothing, and the delay for cash may anger your robber. So don’t fall for this hoax if you hear it for yourself sometime.

Much of the information we have about the frequency of ATM robberies comes from surveys done by the major banks. These surveys tell us that the rate of crimes occurring at ATM’s is low: a crime happens about one time for every million to three and a half million times that customers use ATM’s. Now, it might be common sense, but standalone ATM’s – ATM’s which are not located inside banks or other premises which are guarded – are much more likely to be robbed. Drive-through ATM’s are also, statistically speaking, safer from robberies than the kind you walk up to. And most ATM robberies occur at night – specifically, between the hours of midnight and four in the morning.

If you want to use an outdoor walk-up ATM in a place where no police officers or security guards seem to be around, try to find one that’s well-it, on a street where plenty of people are walking by and hanging around. Take a good look around before you go up to an ATM too, as most ATM robbers will wait until a victim takes her or his cash out before making a move. And if you are ever robbed at an ATM, you should contact your bank to let them know as soon as you possibly can – but be sure to call the police first!

Outrageous ATM Glitches

Can ATM glitches affect you?

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.

Is the ATM Business a Bad Idea?

Is the ATM Business a Bad Idea?

Aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to “get-rich-quick” always turn to ideas where they think they can put in the minimal amount of work, yet yield the maximum (and sometimes most ludicrous sounding) amount of money in a short amount of time. Sadly, they’re also the ones who are more likely to buy or invest in anything that “sounds” good without really researching and fully investigating the idea.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying or starting new businesses with the sole goal of making lots of money. But what IS wrong is when the idea of making large amount of money overshadows the amount of initial work and commitment that it will really take before any budding new business takes off the ground.

The ATM business is a very good entrepreneurial endeavor and does yield a lot of revenue for ATM owners. However, going into business as an ATM entrepreneur is just not right for some people and their mode of thinking, and can quickly turn into the worst thing they’ve ever done.

No Money

As an aspiring ATM entrepreneur, if you don’t have any reserved money to invest into this business, then it may be a bad idea for you. Although getting into the business only requires a nominal amount of money, you do have to and need to be prepared to spend something to get the business set up. This is not a cookie-cutter business or a “business-in-a-box” and you will see that you’re going to need to treat the investment as a serious endeavor and be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars. Whether you obtain a small business loan or borrow the money, you will need to have something to get started.

No Business Plan

If you don’t have a plan of action or a comprehensive business plan, it’s not a good idea to go full force into this business. However, without a business plan, it WILL be difficult for you to be successful in this business. Too often, new entrepreneurs think they can perhaps install a few ATM’s at random locations and just rake in the cash without planning or forecasting. A solid business plan will help guide you through setting up the business, establishing contacts, understanding and signing legal contracts, planning for business changes, including profitable times and when there’s a loss of revenue due to unforeseen circumstances. A good business plan will also guide you on how to effectively market your ATM business and even what type(s) of software products you’ll need to have for your ATM’s, depending on their locations.

No Legal Agreements

Speaking of legal issues, contracts that are properly signed and worded are of the utmost importance for this kind of business. Verbal agreements are certainly great to have, but in the ATM business, you need to have comprehensive agreement contracts that cover each area and responsibility of the business as well as ensuring that you are covered as a businessperson.

No Mentor

With those legal issues, marketing issues, finding good ATM locations and even locating ATM investors for your business can best be covered with the help of a business mentor. This would, of course, preferably be someone who has or is currently in the ATM business world. They can help guide you and offer suggestions on your ATM business journey. However, if you are planning to simply dive into the business without any mentoring or guidance, you may be taking on much more than you can handle. Yes, you can certainly have success without a mentor, but you’ll have that success much sooner and without as many hiccups if you secure a mentor to help you along the way.

So, Is the ATM Business a Bad Idea?

With the aid of a good mentor, solid business information and an acute awareness of what you can expect out of the ATM business, you certainly can find great success and form a profitable business. Regardless of the length of time it may take, which can be shorter or longer for each person, your goal should be to build a solid, profitable, sustaining ATM business that will reap monetary rewards and personal satisfaction.

Free Money: There Is Such A Thing

Free MoneyPeople don’t think there’s such a thing as “free money,” but as one ATM distributor in the UK found out, unfortunately, there is. When the ATM cash machine performed a faulty operation, the machine started giving out twice the amount of cash that customers were requesting.

The machine did this for a few hours before the police were summoned to come in and guard the machine from further theft (theft? really?) and to maintain secure premises and keep down any confusion. It seems that the crowd was starting to get a little boisterous and the shoving and pushing to get in the long line was getting out of control. After all, there was “free money” to be had, and everyone wanted a piece of it.

Just to be clear, this was definitely a fluke with the machine, and there is no ATM machine anywhere that purposefully gives out wads of money to its customers. Something faulty had gone wrong with the machine or someone forgot to change the default password to change the denomination settings, and customers were getting twice the amount of money that they were requesting. Word about the free cash quickly spread, and that’s when people started lining up to partake of what was, to some, their dreams coming true!

What’s a Business Owner To Do To Avoid Giving Away Free Money?

Avoid Giving Away Free MoneyThe owner of the cash machine of course had to work quickly to correct the mistake, but according to the bank, they could not and would not hold the customers liable for an error that their machine had made.

This leaves a lot of questions in the mind of any business owner, like:

  • shouldn’t the customers return the money?
  • how can the business owner recoup these “lost funds?”
  • what exactly happened with the machine to cause this error?
  • what can be done to ensure that it does NOT happen again?

There’s no way to be sure to tell what happened, how it could have been avoided and what can be done to avoid it in the future. But as an ATM cash machine owner, there are some things that a businessperson can and should do to lessen the chances of this happening with his cash machines.

1. Have the machines serviced regularly.

Don’t just plop down a cash machine in a spot and leave it there without periodic checks and maintenances. It’s important to do more than ensure the machine has adequate cash, but to also check to make sure that the software is up-to-date, that the hardware is working properly (slots, trays, etc.) and there are no visible signs of wear (rust, corrosion, etc.) that would hinder the machine in any way from working properly.

2. Check on the machines regularly.

Actually going to the machine site on a routine basis is important. Whether this is once weekly or three times a week, anything can happen so it’s imperative to stay ahead of any potential issues by keeping a close eye on things. This means more than just restocking it with cash and paper. Perform routine system checks in addition to visual checks, and make sure to physically handle the machine when you do.

3. Consult Professionals

If anything like what happened with the wayward cash machine were to ever happen to you as an ATM cash machine owner, you’d want to know what your recourses were (if any) and how you’d need to go about taking care of this issue. Consult your business attorney(s) to see if:

a. you have any recourse

b. you can ask for/insist that customers return the money

c. you should file an insurance claim to recover your losses

d. there really isn’t anything you can do, and you should just chalk it all up to unfortunate incidents.

3. Change Default Passwords and Admin Function Codes

When ATM Machines ship from the factory they are all shipped with the same administrative passwords and lock combinations. One of the first things that needs to be updated are the administrative and management passwords.  If you are installing the ATM yourself, be sure to change these passwords. If you have your ATM professionally installed, be sure to ask your installer to walk you through the change process and don’t give anyone your passwords.

A legal professional as well as the ATM distributor may be able to assist you on what actions you can and should take, and what you should reasonably expect from such a situation. Although in the UK case, the owners had to suffer a loss, but that may vary from one company and one situation to another. It’s best to know for sure before giving up.