Technology seems to bring out both the worst and the best in people.
Computers have helped the handicapped learn to walk, but there are
those who will always try to bend technology for their own
ill-gotten gains. Bank automated teller machines, or ATMs, are a
Computers, the story goes, were sort of ``smart'' machines, and
they could take the place of people in certain jobs. Like bank
tellers. Who, the reasoning went, needed a human to count money? A
computer-machine could do that, and do it cheaper than paying a
teller's salary and providing benefits.
These same people, bankers by name, figured that eventually
folks wouldn't need regular banks any more. We could do all our
banking at a kiosk or in a shopping mall or even in the grocery
store, using an automated teller machine. We'd get convenience, and
the banks would save money.
So they installed the automated tellers, and they urged us to
get our bank cards and PINs (personal identification numbers) and
use them. They sponsored contests and gave us prizes for using
their machines. And slowly, we did begin using them.
Last year, there were more than 3.5 billion automated teller
machine transactions. Instead of lines at the teller windows, there
are now lines in front of the teller machines.
But unfortunately, there are criminal types lurking around some
of those machines, waiting for an unsuspecting victim. According to
some pretty unreliable statistics, somewhere between 285 and 350
automated teller machine-related crimes occurred in the United
States last year. I say unreliable because the lower number is what
less than half the banks surveyed reported. And because the 350
number is drawn from assembled newspaper clippings.
In any case, there are enough crimes that we should all be
concerned about them. Most teller machine crimes occur at walk-up
tellers on bank premises, in business districts, shopping centers or
residential areas - in that order. That means an automated teller
installed in the wall of the bank, maybe outside, maybe in the entry
way. Not in a secure kiosk where you always have to use your card
to gain entry.
Furthermore, there is little security at these walk-up tellers.
Most sites of crime had no security camera installed. Twenty-two
percent had a transaction camera only, 8 percent had a surveillance
camera, and only 12 percent had both. While the teller was in plain
sight, quite often the lighting was poor - because the most crimes
occurred between 7 p.m. and midnight, when it was dark.
What types of crimes occur? Well, the criminal is after the
money, of course, but often the victim loses other personal property
and/or is injured in the process. …