“Twenty-four hour ATMs are a boom to busy customers and significantly reduce transaction costs to banks and S&Ls, but...public fear of ATM-related theft is increasing significantly,” observed Barry M. Feinberg, Senior Vice President and Director of Audits & Surveys Worldwide’s Public Affairs Division. “Nearly one-quarter of those surveyed urgently want action taken to reduce the safety risks of using ATMs.”
The next generation of automatic teller machines is hitting the streets of America. As financial institutions continue to diversify into new lines of business, ATM manufacturers and software programmers are endeavoring to keep pace with new products. Some new ATMs are able to cash checks to the penny, issue traveler’s checks and postage stamps, perform stock transfers, print coupons, issue telephone cards, and even, sell theater tickets. In many respects, the technology is the simple part. Any piece of paper, from a ten-dollar bill to a concert ticket, can be easily dispensed from an ATM. But it is not yet clear how consumers will welcome this increased flexibility when they are concerned about crimes at these unprotected sites.
According to an ongoing study by the Public Affairs Division of Audits & Surveys Worldwide, the public is increasingly aware, concerned, and demanding action to lower the risk of crime at automatic teller machine sites. After interviewing 1,200 randomly selected adults, eighteen years of age or older, Audit & Surveys Worldwide’s IssueTrack®/USA reported that in October 1995, 43% of the public were increasingly aware of the safety risks associated with using automatic teller machines. ASW’s study also found that the percentage of adults who insistently want action taken to reduce the safety risks associated with using ATMs increased from 20% in June 1995 to 28% in June 1996.
As the production and the use of ATMs are increasing, so are the amount of crimes occurring at the ATM sites. It has even been reported that ATM Crime is the fastest growing segment of criminal activity. According to the published statistics for 1995, there were more than 9 billion transactions at 102,100 ATM’s throughout the country. If 90% of these transactions occurred in the daytime, there still would have been 25,000 ATM transactions made every night of the year. That’s a lot of potential for crime! Money Magazine states that even by conservative estimates, 21 to 42 ATM related crimes occur each day.
SOURCE: Audits & Surveys Worldwide is an international marketing research firm headquartered in New York City serving commercial, industrial, legal, institutional, governmental and academic clients in more that seventy countries. Audits & Surveys Worldwide, 650 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York, 10011.
RECORD ATM CRIME SETTLEMENT IN TEXAS (1996)
In 1996, a RECORD ATM CRIME SETTLEMENT was paid by a Texas bank. The tragedy that occurred in San Antonio, Texas, on March 7, 1993, was the basis for the lawsuit.
The lawsuit charged the bank with several security omissions. It was claimed, that the resulting injuries, death, and damages were foreseeable and proximately caused by the negligent conduct of the “Defendants, its agents, servants or employees by one or more of the following acts or omissions,...” CLAIM #4 of 10: Defendants “failed to provide Paula Fern Pocase with an adequate protective security system which would alert local police in an emergency situation such as a 911 button on the ATM facility;”
Just one (1) week prior to the trial, the financial institution offered a $100,000 Settlement. The Plaintiff’s attorney, Gibbins replied he “wouldn’t take a penny less of $4,500,000.00!”
The surviving sons, ages 5 and 11, answered only four questions in court: (1) What is your name? (2) What is your age? (3) Were you close to your mother? and (4) Do you miss your mother?
RESULT: RECORD OPEN SETTLEMENT of $4,500,000.00
However, the Jurors of the trial indicated they would have awarded $7,500,000.00 to $10,000,000.00, if the lawsuit had gone to the Jury!
Can you afford not to have a communications system on your bank’s ATM? You certainly can’t if what a past president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America has said is true...”More women need to be aware of the dangers of using an ATM alone at night.”
SafeAlert Systems’ ATM911 Emergency Communication System may have been able to save Paula Fern Pocase’s life, or better, may have even deterred the crime from happening at all.