No, pressing ‘cancel’ twice on an ATM doesn’t protect your PIN

A popular post on Facebook says “a banker” has a “very useful tip” for “withdrawing funds from an ATM”:

“Always press ‘cancel’ button twice before inserting the card in ATM machine. If anyone has set up the keypad to steal your PIN code, this will cancel that setup. Please make it a habit and part of every transaction that you make. Please share with those about whom you care,” the message reads.

The problem is that the “tip” is useless.

‘Cancel’ just interrupts a transaction already in progress

“The ‘cancel’ button on the ATM has the sole job of interrupting the transaction, to abort the transaction in the event it is being transmitted to the bank for authorisation,” Fidelis Muia, director of technical services at the Kenya Bankers Association, told Africa Check.

The association has 12 real tips on safety and security for PINs, passwords and other financial information. These include not sharing your PIN or password, covering the keypad while you enter the PIN, and only entering the PIN when the machine tells you to.

“The ‘cancel’ button has no effect on the PIN entry mechanism and pressing it will in no way affect the PIN or its entry,” Muia said.

Banks freely give out security information

And finally, why would an anonymous banker feel obliged to offer a tip the banks themselves hadn’t?

“Any security tips from banks to their customers are provided by the banks themselves and there are no hidden ‘tips’ that staff would have that are not given to the customer base,” Muia said.

US-based fact-checking website Snopes has already rated the claim as false. So has Politifact, another US fact-checker, which gave it the rating pants on fire.

There are many ways to deal with ATM fraud, but pressing “cancel” twice is a waste of time – and plain nonsense. – Alphonce Shiundu (31/01/19)


Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check has partnered with Facebook to combat fake news and false information on the social platform. This fact-check is part of the initiative.

As part of its third-party fact-checking programme, Facebook allows its partners to see public articles, pictures or videos that have been flagged as potentially inaccurate.

Content rated as “false” by fact-checkers will be downgraded in news feeds. This means fewer people will see it.

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