ATM “tip” to protect your PIN is false

FactCheck July 11, 2019

The Statement

AAP FactCheck examined a Facebook post from July 5, 2019 by CIR (Citizens Initiated Referendums) now-Australia questioning whether a “useful tip” titled ‘Message from a Banker’ would prevent PIN numbers being stolen.

The message features a picture of an ATM and reads: “A very useful tip while withdrawing funds from an ATM. Press the ‘cancel’ button twice before inserting the card. If anyone has set-up the key pad to steal yr (sic) PIN code, this will cancel that set-up. Please make it a habit and part of every transaction that you make. Please share with Family & Friends whom you care.” 

CIRnow-Australia’s Facebook page has more than 2770 followers. It states: “We the People are entitled through our Constitution Section 128 to have a say in how we are governed by voting in referendums.” The group’s website describes its mission as helping to “educate Australians and indeed patriots around the world learn the truth about the political party crimes and treason being committed against us every day”. 

The Analysis

The same ATM tip has been posted on social media since at least November 2018 and been shared in various forms in the US, Canada, Africa, Asia and more recently Australia. Here’s three examples from the Philippines, South Africa and India.

Despite being investigated by up to 10 fact checking services which found it to be false, the tip is still being shared. UK group debunked the tip in November 2018, concluding it could not “find any examples where pressing the cancel button twice on the keypad would prevent any such scams. As such we rank the message false”. 

David Tente, executive director of the ATM Industry Association, told the Snopes US fact-checking website the claim was “completely false”. Mr Tente said a cancel command from the keypad “would not have any impact on the transaction, except to cancel it”.

Dr Vassil Roussev, computer science professor at the University of New Orleans and the director of the UNO Cyber Center, told Politifact the message “should not, in any way, be taken as a safety precaution. It won’t hurt you, but I would place zero value on this type of advice.”

In January 2019, AFP debunked a similar tip in India which featured “Important message from RBI”. A Reserve Bank of India spokesman denied the bank had issued any such warning. “This news is false,” he told AFP.

In Africa, the PesaCheck fact check unit warned about the message circulating in Kenya and declared it was false. Another fact checking unit, Africa Check concluded the ‘tip’ was “useless”. “The ‘cancel’ button on the ATM has the sole job of interrupting the transaction, to abort the transaction in the event it is being transmitted to the bank for authorisation,” Fidelis Muia, director of technical services at theKenya Bankers Association, told Africa Check. “The ‘cancel’ button has no effect on the PIN entry mechanism and pressing it will in no way affect the PIN or its entry.”  

Curt Binns, Canada’s executive director of the ATM Industry Association, a non-profit association that represents the ATM industry globally said the message “doesn’t make any sense” and was unnecessary.

A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson told AAP FactCheck the claims made by the post were false and encouraged customers “to look out and remain vigilant when using an ATM”. 

Andy White, CEO of Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet),  a payments industry body, told AAP FactCheck: “This message is not accurate.  Pressing cancel will not deactivate any bug in an ATM PIN pad.”

The Verdict 

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck found the Facebook post circulated by CIRnow-Australia and other Facebook users is false.  

  • False – The Facebook post is false.

 First published Thursday July 11, 2019 15:30 AEST

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