Various rumours have been spreading online that assert that ATM (cash point) machines are built with a special feature that performs certain functions when you enter your PIN number in reverse, such as contacting the police.
The rumours assert that if you are under duress and are being forced to withdraw money from an ATM machine, that entering your PIN will notify local police. Other variants of the rumour claim that the ATM will begin taking photos, and will prevent the money being taken out of the slot.
Some versions of this rumour can be seen below –
WHEN A THIEF FORCES U 2 TAKE MONEY FROM D ATM, DO NOT ARGUE OR RESIST, U MIGHT NOT KNOW WHAT HE OR SHE MIGHT DO 2 U.
WHAT U SHOULD DO IS 2 PUNCH UR PIN IN D REVERSE,
Ex. IF UR PIN IS 1254, SHOULD PUNCH 4521.
D MOMENT U PUNCH IN D REVERSE, D MONEY WILL COME OUT BUT WILL BE STUCK INTO D MACHINE HALF WAY OUT AND IT WILL ALERT POLICE WITHOUT D NOTICE OF D THIEF.
EVERY ATM HAS IT, ITS SPECIALLY MADE 2 SIGNIFY DANGER & HELP.
Collected Sept 2011
If a theif forces you to take money out of an ATM, do not argue or resist. What you do is punch in your pin # backwards. EX if its 1234, you’ll type 4321. When you do that, the money will come oit but will be stuck in the slot. The machine will immediately alert the local police without the robbers knowledge & begin taking photos of the suspect. Every ATM has the feature. Stay safe.
Collected Aug 2016
Despite the persistent nature of these rumours – that have been circulating since at least 2011 – there is little truth to their claims. While various studies have looked at the feasibility of implementing such a reverse-PIN system, (as well as a patented software application that could be implemented into ATMs) no ATM’s anywhere in the world currently employ such a system that matches the description in these claims. Meaning that anyone who types in their PIN in reverse will get the standard incorrect PIN warning, without the activation of any special features.
Of course, this hoax is demonstrably untrue since anyone can (and often do) set their PIN number to a palindrome, which is a number that reads the same forward as it does in reverse, such as 1551. For such a reverse-PIN system to be implemented, palindrome PIN numbers would first have to be banned, which of course they’re not.
Not only that, but many versions of this hoax have – over the years – purported to come from various police forces and departments across the globe, many of which have directly dismissed the warnings have come from them. This debunk from North Wales Police in the UK rebukes the claim from one version that the information came from UK-based crime show Crimestoppers.
It is a mystery why exactly this hoax continues to make so many comebacks over the years in various permutations, but what is clear is that it could potentially be dangerous given that it provides plain false information to people who would be in extremely dangerous and volatile situations. Perhaps the authors of these various incarnations of the hoax have done it just as a joke, but the reality is that bad advice pertaining to such dangerous situations is just reckless.
As such, it is extremely irresponsible for people to share such information across the Internet or on social media. If your friends have shared such content, we recommend letting them know that this is just a hoax.