While banks are considering strengthening security at ATMs, the view that deployment of guards round-the-clock alone cannot guarantee security is gaining strength, as police have found that some guards are allowing back rooms to be used for illegal activities.
There have been instances where private security personnel have allowed couples to spend time privately in the back rooms of ATMs by collecting money.
In some cases, the guards allow people to play cards and indulge in betting too in the back rooms.
Many ATMs have back rooms for guards to change clothes.
Also, the power back-up units are located along with electrical and secret camera power connections in the back rooms. Following the Bangalore incident, police studied the prevailing security system at ATMs in the State.
It was then they stumbled upon visuals of couples being allowed inside the back rooms.
They also found that most ATMs had no guards at all. “We cannot blame the entire private security guards system, but it did expose the lapses,” a police officer, pleading anonymity, said.
The guards, mostly middle-aged and some too old, were found to be unfamiliar with the vulnerability of the ATMs they were manning. Usually, personnel who manage UPS, air conditioners, cash loading, burglar alarms, electrical work, secret cameras and cleaning enter the back rooms.
Lack of effective system
“But, there is no system by which a guard can identify if a cheat or a burglar has entered the ATM centre posing as an electrician or AC mechanic and make away with the cash,” police said.
Interestingly, security systems at ATMs are not uniform throughout the State. If the ATMs of a bank in urban centres have surveillance cameras, those of the same bank in rural areas lack such facilities.
Bankers, however, have a different tale to tell. Claiming that ATMs are value-added services to customers, they say banks are already incurring huge expenditure through installation of cash dispensing machines, air conditioners and payment of rents.
Hiring security guards translates into an additional financial burden. Therefore, most ATMs are left without guards, they concede.
Guards found to be allowing back rooms of ATMs to be used for illegal activities