If a bank does not provide reasonable security measures for their ATM machines, they may be held liable for a criminal attack. Most people today either bank online or at an ATM. They do not go into a bank and deal with a teller.
Most banks provide ATMs which are available in a lighted area in front of the bank and which are accessible twenty-four hours a day seven days per week to persons with a bank card and code.
Criminals have, unfortunately, figured out that most people who use an ATM have an ATM card and also have money in the bank. It has therefore become an all-too-common occurrence for the criminal element to target ATM users in bank vestibules.
When a bank provides an ATM, it must also provide a working locking mechanism in the vestibule door which can only be accessed by persons with valid ATM cards. When the vestibule lock is broken it creates a potential for a crime. When the bank is aware and has notice of it, either because it knows of the condition or because the lock has been broken for a long enough time that the bank knew or should have known about it, the bank may then be held legally responsible.
It is obviously foreseeable that in a situation where a vestibule door lock to an ATM area is broken a criminal attack upon a user of the bank’s ATM on the bank’s premises may occur.
Where a criminal act is foreseeable, the bank cannot use the excuse that there was an intervening criminal attack in an attempt to avoid its responsibility. Obviously, banks must take reasonable precautions to secure their premises and make them as safe as possible.
The courts will consider whether the bank is located in a high crime area and also whether there have been prior crimes at the ATMs.
We represented an ATM user who was assaulted in the middle of the day even though the bank had posted a security guard at the ATM machines. However, the guard was on his break at the time of the assault.
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