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Security bill chokes ATM safety

MONEY MATTERS

Am I secured inside an ATM while taking out cash?

• Each transaction at an ATM is secured but personal security is not the bank’s responsibility

What are the safety measures an ATM kiosk should have?

• Closed-circuit television cameras at the kiosk

• CCTV/IP camera installed on the machine

• Card swipe slot to open automatic magnetic door

• Convex mirror on the machine

What’s the purpose of the CCTV camera?

• CCTV is a must inside an ATM kiosk — be it wall-mounted or on the machine. The attacker in the Bangalore incident on Tuesday morning could be identified through the CCTV

Why do we need card swipe slot?

• Your ATM card has an RFID chip. RFID, or Radio Frequency Identification, helps to know the person who uses a particular ATM at what time. It’s common in debit cards, credit cards, office identity cards etc

Why should there be a convex mirror?

• The mirror helps you to make out if anyone is coming inside or stalking while withdrawing cash

Why a security guard can be deployed at each ATM kiosk?

• Simple. Overhead cost factor of around Rs 30000 per month. ATMs were invented to do away with manpower, not escalating cost towards human resources. Banks though have security guards deployed at some ATMs

Personal security is the responsibility of customers, not the banks, inside an ATM kiosk.

Bankers and police said in the same voice that they hardly had the manpower to secure each ATM counter.

The Tuesday morning attack on a woman in an ATM in Bangalore sent shockwaves to thousands of bank customers across the country to which the city is not an exception.

A senior official of State Bank of India (SBI) said: “The bank has 1,443 ATM counters across the state but guards are present at around 900 of those. The reason of not having a security guard in an ATM counter is decided by the senior bank management,” an SBI official said.

The bank officials The Telegraph had spoken to requested anonymity saying they needed permission from their head offices to talk to the media about the issue — a sensitive one after the Bangalore ATM attack incident.

According to official figures, Punjab National Bank has 434 ATMs, ICICI Bank has 176, Axis Bank has 156, Bank of India has 148, HDFC Bank has 139, Central Bank has 130 ATMs in the state.

“The respective banks decide on whether to provide a kiosk a guard or not. The total number of kiosks without security guards is difficult to say,” an official at the State-Level Bankers’ Committee said.

Take the case of Punjab National Bank, which has 76 ATMs in the Patna town area. “Of these, the bank has 44 counters, which have 24-hour security guards. At 21 counters, we have deployed security from 6pm to 6am. The rest do not have any security. There is always a cost factor involved in the deputation of guards at the ATMs. On an average, the bank has to shell out an amount between Rs 28,000 and Rs 30,000 monthly if guards are deployed at an ATM counter for 24 hours on an eight-hour shift. Hence, the bank chooses the counters, which should have ATM counters. The ATMs, which are not used much and are less hit by customers, do not have security guards. The bank calculates the same and a decision is taken. Practically, it is not possible for any bank to have security men in all the ATM counters,” a PNB official said.

The police said their hands were tied up. “It is the banks, which are responsible for the security of their respective ATMs. It is not possible for the police to depute constables at each of the ATM counters. However, the police will help the banks if they come forth with a list of ATMs where security is essential,” senior superintendent of police Manu Maharaj said.

“We operate 32 ATM in the town area. The work for installing an ATM counter, the security aspect and other related issues have been outsourced to a private firm,” a senior Central Bank of India official said.

Amresh Ranjan, deputy general manager, RBI Patna, said the RBI had a set of norms regarding security of banks and ATMs. “There cannot be fresh guidelines, which can be floated on a case-to-case basis. It is the banks, which decide which ATM of theirs needs security,” he said.

Former director-general of police Neelmani said: “In 2011, the RBI had come up with an idea for a special force for bank security. The police were in talks with them to raise a battalion or two just for bank security. They (RBI) had stated that the cost factor would be borne by them. However, after some discussions, they did not turn up.”