Fact or Myth? Reverse Panic PIN Code

Friday, August 17 at 01:30 PM
Category: Personal Finance

Fact or myth? 

“Entering your PIN backwards at an ATM will alert police if you are in a potentially dangerous situation.”

Answer:  100% myth.  This is a common urban legend about ATMs that dates back to a September 2006 email chain.  If you have email, you have likely been on the receiving end of an e-mail chain spreading myths similar to this one.

Financial institutions in the United States, including Arvest Bank, have not deployed any technology of this sort to date. Entering your PIN backwards will result in nothing more than a denial of your transaction.

Or, if your number is reversible like 4884, 1441, or 4114 for example, then you should expect nothing more than a typical transaction process.  Customers select their own PINs privately so there would be no way to prevent these instances.

Snopes.com, a website dedicated to researching and debunking urban myths provides what they believe to be the explanation behind the myth.  A system similar to the one mentioned was envisioned in 1994 and patented in 1998 by Joseph Zingher, a Chicago businessman. However, Zingher had very little success in interesting financial institutions in his design and therefore this system was never implemented.  

Although entering your PIN backwards is a myth, there are things you can do to help ensure your security at an ATM:

  • Perform your ATM transactions in a well-lit, public location free of shrubbery or barriers which may restrict view of your surroundings.
  • Do not access the ATM for your transaction if someone appears to be crowding you or trying to see you enter your PIN.
  • Reduce distractions like cell phones, music, chatty children, etc. while making your transaction.  Try to maintain constant awareness of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction. 
  • Never count cash at the machine or in public.  Wait until you are in a secure location.
  • When using a drive-up ATM from a vehicle, keep your engine running, your doors locked and leave enough room to maneuver between your car and the one ahead of you in the drive-up line
  • Always monitor your account with Arvest Online Banking or Arvest Mobile Banking to watch for unauthorized transactions.  If you find any, report these to the bank immediately.
Tags: Financial Education
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