12 On Your Side Alert: Facebook ATM hoax

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you use Facebook, you may have seen a post offering some safety tips when using the ATM. The advice claims if you are in trouble, all you have to do is punch in your pin in reverse and the police will be alerted.

This may sound like a good idea but Bruce Whitehurst, with the Virginia Bankers Association says it's just not true.

"There is some awareness, particularly on the part of ATM manufactures that this Urban Myth is going around," he says.

Whitehurst says if you actually give it some thought, there are some practical reasons why this reverse ATM Pin number method couldn't work.

"What if your pin number is the same backwards and forwards, 1221 or 3223 obviously, it wouldn't work because you're not even doing it. Or what if your pin number is not that way but it is complicated, like 9374. If you are in the situation and in the unlikely event of the one that is described, under duress, are you really going to have the presence of mind to think what 9374 is backwards," he explains.

Whitehurst says if you put in your pin backwards, nothing happens. In fact, you'll probably get a prompt saying you've entered the incorrect pin.

So our next question was why would anyone want to send out this fake message? "Somebody probably did it innocently, believing that it is true and thinking hey, I am going to help other people by putting this on here," he says.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind: Always be aware of your surroundings. Never count cash at the ATM, avoid using street ATMs at night and if you are approached by a robber, don't try to fight back, comply.

"If something is suspicious, then just don't go to it. Don't get out of your car and if you really think something strange is happening, call 911, but obviously from your phone, not by trying to put in your pin number backwards," Whitehurst explains.

Security experts also say, if you can, try to use the ATM inside a building and don't withdraw large amounts of money.

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