Will Entering Your PIN in Reverse Order at an ATM Alert and Summon the Police?

Will Entering Your PIN in Reverse Order at an ATM Alert and Summon the Police?

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According to the FTC, ATMs are currently NOT equipped with the PIN Number Reversal, Reverse-PIN, Safety PIN or Emergency-PIN technology system that allows distressed bank customers or customers that are being robbed at an ATM to enter their PIN number in the reverse order to alert and summon the police. The idea of the Pin Number Reversal system came about in 1994 and was patented in 1998, but has not been implemented or deployed by banks.

Some banks claim that they have not implemented the technology because of the following reasons:

  • may not deter any type of ATM crime, and in some instances may actually increase the risk of danger to ATM customers
  • might entail incurring non-trivial costs for their deployment
  • could result in at least some false activation that might lead to the inefficient allocation of police resources

For more than a decade now, people have been posting information (see below) claiming that the Reverse PIN system has been implemented and encourage other people to use the system if they are forced to withdraw money from the ATM. But, currently this is not true, and if you have received any of these email messages like the ones below, please delete them.

Here are some of the Misleading Posts


If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN # in reverse.

For example if your pin number is 1234 then you would put in 4321.

The ATM recognizes that your pin number is backwards from the ATM card you placed in the machine

The machine will still give you the money you requested, but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.

This information was recently broadcast on CTV and it states that it is seldom used because people don't know it exists.

I checked with my Bank of Nova Scotia to see if this was correct and staff said yes this information is correct.

Please pass this along to everyone possible.

I just found out that should you ever be forced to withdraw monies from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your Pin # in reverse. The machine will still give you the monies you requested, but unknown to the robber, etc, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.

The broadcast stated that this method of calling the police is very seldom used because people don't know it exist, and it might mean the difference between life and death. Hopefully, none of you will have to use this, but I wanted to pass it along just in case you hadn't heard of it.

Please pass it along to everyone possible.

When a thief forces you to take money from the ATM, do not argue or resist, you might not know what he or she might do to you. What you should do is to punch your pin in the reverse, i..e if your pin is 1254, you punch 4521.

The moment you punch in the reverse, the money will come out but will be stuck into the machine half way out and it will alert the police without the notice of the thief. Every atm has it; it is specially made to signify danger and help. Not everyone is aware of this.

Forward this to all your friends and those you care

This is what the FTC Has to Say about the Reverse-PIN System

Emergency-PIN Technology

An emergency-PIN (personal identification number) works by allowing a distressed customer at an ATM to enter some variant of their regular bank card PIN in the keypad to electronically alert a law enforcement agency. One variant of this technology, known as “reverse-PIN,” has been rumored to have been available at ATMs for some time despite never being implemented, falling into the realm of urban legend.

Under a reverse-PIN system, a distressed ATM customer with a bank card PIN of, for example,“1234” would simply enter this number backwards, or “4321,” which in turn would automatically send an electronic relay message to a dispatch center or the police, alerting them of the customer’s location.

An ATM reverse-PIN system called “SafetyPIN” was invented by Joseph Zingher and patented in March 1998.

According to Mr. Zingher, SafetyPIN is a simple computer code “that would recognize reversed, inverted, or otherwise altered [PINs] as a distress signal, and instruct the teller machine to call the cops.

The electronic message relayed to an alarm company dispatcher would contain “the card holder’s name, identifier and location. (The identifier is usually their driver’s license, date of birth + full name, etc.)

For several years, Mr. Zingher attempted to sell SafetyPIN to banks in Illinois, Georgia, and Florida, but his attempts were unsuccessful.

Mr. Zingher offered to make the product available for free on a trial basis to banks in Kansas, but his offer was declined. Mr. Zingher reports that he has had no customers for his emergency-PIN system and that he is unaware of any other emergency-PIN system in use.

Another emergency-PIN system currently marketed to banks is “ATMOnGuard".

This device, which Mr. Zingher identified as a competing product, does not require a distressed customer to enter a reverse-PIN, but rather to hit a single keypad number after the customer’s PIN was entered. The additional single keypad entry would indicate whether the transaction was “normal” or being conducted “under duress,” which would subsequently send an electronic distress call to a dispatch center.27 The ATMOnGuard system has never been deployed at any ATMs in the U.S.

The respondent banks reported that none of their ATMs currently have installed, or have ever had installed, an emergency-PIN system of any sort. The ATM manufacturer Diebold confirms that, to its knowledge, no ATMs have or have had an emergency-PIN system.

Some states have considered legislatively mandating banks to adopt a reverse-PIN system.in January 2004, Illinois considered a bill that would have required banks and other ATM providers to install reverse-PIN capabilities.

However, before enactment, the bill was amended to make the use of this technology discretionary.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Some of the names, addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers or other information in samples on this website may have been impersonated or spoofed.

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Will Entering Your PIN in Reverse Order at an ATM Alert and Summon the Police?