Analysis: False, for now. Technology exists which would allow ATM users to contact police in an emergency by punching in their PIN (personal identification number) in reverse, but as of this writing it has not yet been implemented anywhere in the United States.
Lawmakers in the states of Kansas and Illinois introduced legislation calling for the institution of reverse-PIN emergency notification systems (also known under the brand name SafetyPIN) in 2004, but the Kansas bill stalled in committee and the Illinois bill was watered down at the behest of the banking industry, making the adoption of the technology purely voluntary — which it already was.
According to a story published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year, bankers are opposed to the reverse-PIN system because of safety concerns. They worry that ATM users might hesitate or fumble while trying to enter their PINs backwards under duress, possibly increasing the chances of violence. The banking industry is in favor of finding a means to protect ATM customers, a member of the American Bankers Association said, but question whether the reverse-PIN solution is the right one.
Inventor of PIN number reversal system says banks ‘in denial’
The inventor of SafetyPIN, Joseph Zingher, claims the banking industry is afraid to admit the growing extent of the crime of ATM robbery. Exact figures are hard to come by because ATM holdups are lumped in with other types of bank robbery in the FBI’s annual crime statistics. Of the 8,000 to 12,000 bank robberies per year counted by the FBI over the past 15 years, 3,000 to 4,000 (or just over one-third) were ATM robberies, according to the banking industry. Some crime experts suspect the figure is actually higher.
Bankers, for their part, insist they do acknowledge the problem of ATM crime and recommend that customers exercise due caution and be aware of their surroundings when using automated teller machines.
Read more here.