Some ATM customers in South Florida on Monday said they would welcome a way to alert authorities when in trouble while taking money out of the bank.
“I think it would be great. Yes, they have cameras but you know you are there not knowing who can help,” said Aliette Rodz.
And Chicago-based Joe Zingher said he has created a system called ATM Duress Code.
“If you're just robbed on the street, I get your wallet but if I take you hostage and force you to, I can clean out your bank account if I am willing to commit murder. I am trying to stop murders,” he told NBC Miami.
Zingher is trying to get banks to install it. He said people would pick an easy-to-remember code to punch in during an emergency and ultimately call 911. The code could trigger a surveillance photo. The ATM would still give cash but wouldn’t warn an assailant.
Ralph Hernandez, who has 40 years of law enforcement experience, including time as the Police Chief in North Miami Beach, said he supports the system.
“When criminals know there is an initiative that can prevent and at the same time they can be caught committing a crime, they are going to think twice,” Hernandez said. “I honestly believe its about time we look at it and we move forward because its something that can save lives and actually assist law enforcement.”
But one police chief, who didn’t want to be named, said he didn’t think the system was a good idea because customers may have a hard time remembering the duress code, which may cause problems for the victim.
Todd Caplin, another ATM customer, said he also thought it was a good idea, and he would have no problem remembering the code.
"Yes. The way I do it is to pick something simple I can remember and have no trouble remembering when you are in trouble," he said.
Zingher said so far no banks have installed the emergency code.
The head of the National Bankers Association, Michael Grant, said bankers need more time to thoroughly evaluate the duress code.
He said the security elements need to be examined, as well as the cost of installation.