Mugging Alarms On ATMs Are Expensive And Useless

Anti-robbery systems at ATMs, like an alarm button button or a PIN code used to alert police you’re getting mugged, are rarely installed on the cash disgorgers, and with good reason.

According to a FTC report, at about $1,500 a pop, they’re expensive to retrofit, the police usually don’t have the resources to respond in real-time, and they result in more false alarms than real calls. In one pilot program, an alarm-equipped ATM resulted in 500 false calls to the cops, and zero real robbery notifications.

Not to mention, the real risk at ATMs is not holdups, but fraudsters slurping up your account info.

Whenever you go to an ATM, scan it for pinhole cameras, tug on the card inserter, and hide your PIN from shoulder surfers. None of that protects you, though, from the guaranteed mugging of a $3.00 withdrawal fee.

REPORT ON EMERGENCY TECHNOLOGY FOR USE WITH ATMs (PDF) [FTC]