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ATM Training FAQs
Choosing your ATM repair company

Unlike twenty years ago when you had to go back to the manufacturer for all of your ATM repair needs, today you have several different companies to choose from. Some of these companies only offer repairs at their facility. Some only offer on-site service and some offer parts. How do you choose when some companies charge by the hour and some charge a flat rate? It’s simple, ATM doctors offers repairs both on site and at our facility for one low flat rate. With the best prices and fastest turnaround in the industry you have nothing to lose. Want to do that repair yourself? No problem! We offer a variety of parts and components as well as the expertise to make it easy. Visit us at www.atm-doctors.com or give us a call at 1-888-895-7685

ATM Security

There are several ways thieves can try to compromise your ATM and turn your customers and cash to their advantage. They can physically attack the machine, install a skimmer to grab card numbers and cameras to record pins, or simply commit dispute or reversal fraud to retrieve money that you have already dispensed. The only way to protect your ATM investment from these attacks is through diligent observation and careful planning.

Dispute fraud is the most common way that thieves will try to get to your vault cash. They simply make a withdrawal and contest the charges with their bank. Your processor will notify you that you have a dispute and need to pull the journal to contest it. The burden is on you to prove that the money was dispensed properly. These fraudsters will often begin multiple disputes at ATM’s across town in the hopes that an unwitting operator will overlook the dispute and not contest it. You will usually see that these false disputes are for the maximum dispense limit of your machine. The only way to combat ATM dispute fraud is to be sure that you are pulling the journal for every disputed transaction and sending them to your processor. In addition, if you update your software or pull a machine from the field, be sure that you are archiving your journal in case there is a future dispute. It is important, now that liability has shifted, that all of your ATM’s are EMV compliant because you will automatically lose any chip card dispute if your ATM cannot accept EMV chips.

Card skimmers are the next most common means of attack. A thief installs a small device inside the card reader of your ATM. This device will read the magnetic strip of the customer’s card as it is inserted into the ATM. Even if the card and the machine are EMV compliant a skimmer can still get information from the magnetic strip. Some scammers use a small hidden camera to record customers entering their PIN as well. A skimmer on your ATM can cause a loss of customer loyalty and a dramatic decline in your transactions as well as getting you involved with the police and possible legal actions. The only way to protect yourself against skimmers is diligent inspection of your machine. Inspect the machine every time you go to a location. Be sure to pay close attention to the inside and back side of the card reader. Look for any foreign objects or wires that seem out of place. Inspect the cabinet for any damage or small holes that may have been drilled in it. If you find a skimmer call the police immediately.

Physical attacks on the ATM itself also happen regularly and can be the most devastating financially. Thieves will tie a tow chain to an ATM and rip it out of the store or hit it with a vehicle. Their goal is to remove the machine to a safe place where they can take their time opening it. That is why time is on your side if you do a little careful planning. First find a safe spot within your location to install your ATM. Do not install it next to doors or half walls with windows. Look for reinforced columns or barricaded areas where the impact of a vehicle will be blunted. Partner with the property owner to make sure the location is alarmed and has a camera on the machine or is a 24 hour location. Consider your customers security when using your machine. Make sure it is in a well-lighted public area that will allow them to have a good view of their surroundings. Use ½ inch wedge anchors to bolt down the machine and use every bolt hole the manufacturer provides. Finally it is a good idea to fill the area of the vault below the dispenser with concrete paving stones. These provide extra weight and stability to the ATM and often prevent thieves from moving the machine even if they defeat the bolts. If you are truly concerned with the security of your machine there are also several aftermarket security solutions that can go around the machine to protect it. Give us a ring at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com and we can give you our best advice, or come and do your install for you.

ATM Innovation

Every year the pace of technology development increases and the world moves faster and faster around us. This is true for every facet of technology today including the ATM. For years it seemed as though the industry moved at a snail’s pace compared to other technologies with only minor developments such as changes in communication methods that mirrored how the world was changing. In the last 10 years however changes in legislation and growth of mobile technology have rocketed the industry forward in terms of changes; all while decreasing interchange rates have made it fiscally difficult for IAD’s to keep up with these changes.

Triple DES encryption which would triple an ATM’s level of PIN pad security first began being bandied about in 2001. The networks were worried about their potential losses to fraud and the IAD’s were concerned with the cost of upgrading their fleets. This was the first major security upgrade since independent ATM deployment really began to take off in the 1990’s and it rocked the industry. Networks and deployers went round and round for years with a constant series of demands, push backs and floating deadlines. The deadline was finally finalized for manufacturers in 2003 and for deployed terminals in 2008 and this lead to a massive culling of the number of off premise ATM’s as the lower transaction locations had suddenly become unprofitable.

PCI Standards first mandated in 2008 required ATM deployers to replace old VISA keypads with new PCI compliant ones. These expensive upgrades increased security and prevented thieves from attaching devices to the keypad in order to steal PIN numbers. They also pushed an enormous financial burden on to IAD’s that had spent the years before developing and Triple DES upgrading extensive networks of machines that were now in need of further upgrade.

ADA requirements in 2010 forced deployers to upgrade or replace their existing machines in order to be in compliance. Many machines needed expensive upgrade kits that include keypads, audio jacks and additional control boards to be in compliance. Some deployers opted to replace these legacy ATM’s instead of upgrading them. The newer machines featured easier to upgrade software that did not require a pc to load, as well as bigger screens and a more modern look. These upgraded screens and larger storage on the mainboard allowed deployers to bring to market other revenue streams that were not as attractive before, such as branding and advertising on the machines.

In 2016 there was another forced upgrade with the introduction of EMV. Although this was not a government mandate, it shifted the burden of fraud from the card issuer to the owner of a machine without an EMV card reader. This liability shift forced deployers to purchase card reader upgrade kits or to replace machines that were no longer upgradable. These card reader kits also required several rounds of software upgrades to make them function and keep up to date with the slow roll out of new AID’s that allowed the card reader to read certain types of EMV card. This round of card reader upgrades were not just expensive due to price of the card reader but because of the multiple trips it took to make sure the machine was running the newest version of software as card issuers slowly rolled out new AID’s.

Through the years that all of these forced upgrades were taking place Visa and MasterCard also slowly reduced the amount of interchange they would pay for each transaction. This increase in overall expenses and decrease in interchange revenue has led to a consolidation in the industry with smaller deployers often selling to larger players who are looking to leverage economies of scale as a buffer against the market headwinds. There is however some hope on the horizon for small and midsized IAD’s in the form of technological innovation. Just as the larger more colorful screens opened up new opportunities for incremental marketing and branding revenue these new innovations promise to make the ATM more than just a cash machine and provide new revenue streams that were previously unknown.

Bill payment and check cashing kiosks offer an excellent revenue opportunity to IAD’s and a way to leverage their existing network. It is an opportunity to build on the existing relationships between IAD’s and merchants in a way that can provide not just an increase in revenue at the machines but also drive foot traffic to the location in question. For many underbanked communities these kiosks provide a value added service that can be the difference between spending a whole day running errands and a quick trip to the neighborhood C-store. Some companies are even bundling all three services, check cashing, bill payment, and ATM into a single device with a card reader, check scanner, and multiple dispensers for bills, change, and even prepaid cards.

Some companies have begun deploying bitcoin ATM’s that allow consumers to buy pieces or whole bitcoins directly from the machine. They have yet to become prolific as the industry is slow to trust that this new cryptocurrency phenomenon will stick around and provide lasting value. However merchants who are early adopters have reported to me that people have come from miles around to use the machines as they are the most convenient way for their customers to join the bitcoin marketplace.

Dynamic currency conversion is one of the newest innovations that is not only providing value to foreign banked customers but adding strong numbers to IAD’s bottom lines. DCC allows the machine to convert foreign currency in real time using the live exchange rate. The IAD is then paid a percentage of the exchange based on that rate as well as the interchange and surcharge for withdrawal. It is less expensive for the customer than traditional money changing and much more convenient. This has proven to be very profitable for deployers in tourist areas where many of their customers have foreign bank cards.

ATM manufacturers are all now offering a mobile touchless withdrawal option on their new machines. This allows customers to use their mobile phone to make a withdrawal from the machine and in some cased schedule a withdrawal that can be completed by scanning a QR code at the machine. This eliminates the need for cards and card readers. Although consumer adoption for this method has been slow experts predict that it will continue to increase as consumers become more comfortable using their phones for financial transactions.

In order to stay relevant IAD’s must be willing to adopt this new technology and create the demand for it in the marketplace. The changes in technology that are occurring and the continued desire for cash from consumers will continue to drive innovation in the ATM industry for years to come. ATM ownership is often described as a passive income stream but in the current market ATM owners must be more active than ever to remain relevant. Although the ATM industry has faced some legislative and marketplace challenges in the past decade, IAD’s will continue to adapt and evolve to meet the changing demands of the marketplace and consumers.

Caring for Card Readers

The card reader is the most used part of an ATM. Every customer that approaches your machine starts their interaction with that dip in the card reader. This makes it very important that you pay attention to the instillation and care of this device. With the shift to EMV many deployers are replacing a large portion of their fleet’s card readers so when it comes to installation and maintenance there are a few thing to remember.

Straighten it up. Make sure your card reader is aligned correctly with the slot on the front of the ATM and all the screws are tight. A loose or misaligned card reader can result in a consumer’s card becoming lodged inside. This leads to a few immediate problems. First you have an angry customer that is likely going to upset your merchant and spread some bad word of mouth about your machine. It is more than likely that the customer or merchant will try to dislodge the card from the front of the machine possibly causing damage to the fascia or the card reader itself. Then you will most likely have to make a service call to the location to free the card or repair the card reader, costing you time and money. Some manufacturers have a release button accessed through a small hole in the front of the machine. Check with your manufacturer to make sure you are using the correct method to release a stuck card. Take a moment at install to slide a card in several times to ensure alignment and prevent headaches later on.

Ground it. Don’t forget to ground that card reader properly per the manufacturer’s instructions. An improperly grounded card reader could fail or even cause a short taking other expensive components with it. Usually grounding points will have gold or copper colored screws directly into the upper tray of the ATM but be sure to read those instructions to make sure you have the right one.

Keep it clean. Customer’s cards often float around in purses and old wallets for years and are handled daily. They pick up a lot more grime than one might expect. Manufacturers recommend cleaning your card reader each time the machine is loaded. Use an EMV style card reader cleaner to do so. They are a credit card sized plastic card with a scrubbing material coated with alcohol and built in ridges that allow it to make contact with the EMV read head. Buildup can cause the EMV read head to not make proper contact with the chip. This can cause the transaction to fall back to magnetic strip. Visa and Mastarcard have recently suggested charging a per transaction fee on high fallback machines. Keep it clean and don’t let this happen to you.

Inspect it. Dip style EMV card readers are very prone to having debris shoved inside them by malicious and sometimes well-meaning customers. Some customers have old broken cards that can leave pieces of card inside the card reader which can impair its function. Customers who’s cards don’t swipe well will often use a bag or a piece of cellophane to try to get better contact with the reader. Then there are the people who just want to watch the world burn and will shove anything and everything they can get into a card reader. Sometimes this debris won’t cause an immediate problem but will get pushed around inside until it does. Inspect that card reader carefully to prevent this. Use a small flashlight to look in the dip slot and through the access holes in the back of the reader. If you see any debris you can try to pick it out with a small pick set or some small needle nose pliers. Don’t pull too hard and don’t take apart your card reader. If it can’t easily be removed send it to ATM Doctors and we will get it working for you. Give us a ring at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com

Caring for Dispensers

The cash dispenser is the most complicated part of an ATM. They have the most moving parts, they are responsible for moving often inky or dirty notes and have sensors everywhere to make sure that the cash moving through them is valid and the customer is only getting the amount they requested. Cash Dispensers have their own main board apart from the ATM itself that they use to control the speed, spacing, and quality of notes that they dispense. This main board polls a series of sensors that detect everything from the speed the notes are moving to the spacing between them and their thickness. If there is a variation in any of these measurements the dispenser stops and sends an error to the ATM. This keeps the money inside until a human can come and see what happened.

A large portion of these errors are caused by dust and debris that gets inside the dispenser. Cleaning the dispenser and restoring it to proper operation is a fairly simple task. Start with a can of air designed for cleaning electronics. Blow the dust out of the inside of the dispenser and the cassette being sure to focus on the cracks and crannies inside as well as the sensors. The sensor will be a small silicon board attached to a small raised piece of glass. This small raised piece is your sensor. They come in pairs so be sure to clean both sides of every sensor with alcohol and a lint free cloth. Just a smudge or speck of dust on one of these sensors can disable the whole dispenser so be thorough.

Next you will want to clean the feed rollers. They have the most contact with the bills and can get dirty and inky very quickly. This can cause them to slip when trying to grab a note. Depending on the type of dispenser you have the feed rollers can be inside the cash cassette or a part of the dispenser itself. They are easy to recognize because they are the first thing that touches the notes directly. Give them a good cleaning with some alcohol, or better yet, rubber roller cleaner until your lint free cloth comes back clean.

You also want to inspect the dispenser to look for other potential issues. Inspect each passive roller and make sure they spin freely. These are the small black rollers fixed to the bars going across the dispenser. If any feel tight or wont spin apply a small directed squirt of lubricant underneath them. Give each of the belts a gentle tug to make sure they feel tight and are not sliding off the rollers. Remove any small pieces of notes stuck under them.

Now you can put your dispenser back in the machine and clear the error. Make sure the error clears and give it several test dispenses to make sure it is dispensing properly. Now you should be back in business. If the error wont clear or it continues to give errors repeatedly give us a call at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com and we can fully refurbish that cash dispenser so it operates like new.

Caring For Your Thermal Printer

There is not as much care involved in caring for your thermal printer as there is feeding. The number one problem we see with ATM printers is that someone has loaded the paper backwards. The paper is designed so that only one side of the paper reacts to the heat of the thermal print head. If your printer is not printing at all then turning over the paper should be step one in diagnosing it.

Another common problem with ATM thermal printers is that they begin to have lines or blank spots. If there is just a solitary blank line it is possible the print head is dirty and they make a thermal print head cleaning pen for this purpose. You should also dust your printer with canned air. Most of the time however, the issue is that the print head itself has burned out in spots and needs to be replaced. At ATM Doctors we offer the print heads for sale and we can also diagnose and fully refurbish your printer for you. Whether the problem is the print head, controller board, or presenter ATM Doctors has you covered. Give us a call at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com and we can fix it.

Choosing a Manufacturer

When looking to purchase an ATM it is important to do your research as there are several ATM Manufacturers out there each with their own lines, dispensers, price points and features that differ greatly. The major players in the retail ATM market right now are Hyosung, Genmega and Triton. While different they all offer reliability and modern features like touchless withdrawal and email receipts.

Triton has a long and storied 30 year history in the U.S. ATM industry. They developed Standard 3 or TDL which has become the most commonly used communications protocol in the U.S. They also developed one of the first ATM management software platforms for retail ATM’s with Triton connect. They have several configurations that can use many different dispensers such as SDD, Mini-Mech, HCDU, SCDU, and NMD-50. These make them very versatile for upgrading from an existing machine that already has a working dispenser.

Hyosung America was opened in 2007 outside of Dallas, TX. They are one of the most prolific ATM brands around today. With a very competitive price and a reputation for reliable dispensers Hyosung has made an impressive charge on the market in recent years. Their software management suite Moniview is a robust tool for managing multiple ATMs. When used in conjuction with their MoniMobile app they are leading the way with smartphone integration. Hyosung offers their robust and reliable 1K (1000 note) and 2K (2000 note) dispensers in their retail ATM’s as their only configuration. If you are upgrading, you will need to purchase a new dispenser. The security features that Hyosung designs into their software provide an added layer of security but can make servicing slightly more difficult.

Genmega has been around since 2006. They are located in California and offer a full line of stand-alone, through the wall and kiosk ATM’s. Genmega also offers its GenRMS management software as well as Genlink a wireless communications solution. They are easy to load software on and offer several different dispenser options. You can purchase them equipped for SDD, TCDU, SCDU, MCDU and HCDU.

The important thing when looking to purchase an ATM is to find one that has the right mix of features and balance of price that is a fit for your business. If you are comfortable with the look and feel of your ATM then your customers will be too. If you need any friendly advice when looking to purchase just call the Doctors and we will be glad to help. Give us a call at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com

Loading Cash Do’s and Dont’s

Loading cash into the ATM can be one of the most stressful times for merchants and their representatives. You are moving large sums of money that may or may not belong to you through a very public area and accuracy is important. You must not only be aware of what you are doing at the ATM but also what is going on around you. The trick as with most things is practice and awareness. Practice what you will be doing with the machine so that it is almost automatic. This will free you up to pay attention to your surroundings.

I always advise merchants to load cash with the store closed, cleared, and locked. After locking up it is important to walk the store to make sure no one is hiding waiting to rob you before you try to deal with the cash and the ATM. If it is not possible to close up make sure you have another employee or trusted person watch your back. If your machine has a removable cassette, fill it in the back room so that no one can see the cash. Crimes of opportunity often start with the eyes so it is important to keep that money concealed. Most people have never seen the inside of an ATM and wouldn’t know a cassette if they saw it.

Make life easy for yourself and load even numbers of notes. The machine wants the note count when you do a cassette close and not the dollar amount. If you use even note counts then it is less likely that you will misload it causing an accounting situation for you and a disappointment for your customer. This will also make it easier to keep track of your vault cash as you audit your machine and check your account. Most back room bill counters can be configured to stop at an even number

Take the time to do it right. Be thorough when loading your machine. This is likely the only time you will think about your ATM this week so give it some love. Inspect your dispenser and blow it out with canned air. Check your card reader for skimming devices or foreign objects that could jam it. Give the whole machine a thorough inspection and wipe down the outside of the cabinet with a gentle cleaner like Simple Green. Customers are more likely to use a well maintained machine and that means more profit for you. These simple acts will also extend the life of the ATM and dispenser cutting down on possible future repairs.

Your ATM machine should sit there and dispense cash making you money. You shouldn’t have to worry too much about it. Following the simple steps above will ensure that you and your money are safe and that your ATM and dispenser life a long happy trouble free life. If your ATM or dispenser is being a bother give us a call. We would love to help make it worry free. Call us at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com

ATM Communication

Every ATM has to communicate. It’s not an option. First they have to ask the bank for approval before they can give out cash. This means checking the balance to make sure there is enough in the account and verifying that the PIN is correct. Then after they receive approval they have to let the bank know if everything dispensed correctly or not. There are three different ways you can configure a modern ATM to communicate and several companies in these three categories can help you do it.

Ah dial up. The old singing song of a 56k modem humming its tunes out of your old 90’s PC. Some people might be nostalgic for that sound but let’s be honest. It was way too slow. The same goes for your ATM. It will most likely come with the same old 56k modem you used so long ago to chat on AOL Instant Messenger. This method requires that you get a phone line from a land line company. They don’t like the VOIP lines that you can get through the cable company and they never will, so please, everyone stop trying. You have to go through Ma Bell to get a land line and let’s face it that’s an expensive way to go. And did I mention it was slow? Don’t even try using advanced features like Dynamic Currency Conversion. It just won’t work. Unless you have no other choice this communication method is not the way to go.

High Speed Internet. Now were talking, lightning fast transactions in fewer than 3 seconds, Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), Remote management and a host of other features. They’re all yours for the taking once you’ve got your ATM on the interwebs. The only downside is that it can be a little hard to set up and keep up. Some locations use Static IP that requires you to get an IP address from your provider specifically for your machine. Most gas stations are also set up with Ruby systems to control the pay at the pump. Under the C-store counter can look like a stack of boxes covered in tangled spaghetti. Next you have to find a way to get the Ethernet cable to the ATM so no one trips on it. That means a trip through the faux ceiling. Then if you are lucky that location will never ever lose power because this often means power cycling the router and all those boxes in sequence with the ATM last. On the upside it’s fast and already paid for nearly everywhere so it will save you a little money every month.

Finally there are the wireless solutions. Several aftermarket companies offer boxes that connect to cellular networks for data just like your phone does. They are easy to install and just about as fast as connecting straight to the location’s internet. They support all the same features and often the wireless provider will let you know when it is not communicating. They can even reboot that wireless box remotely if it needs it. On the down side it is another piece of equipment for your ATM and like all equipment can be prone to failure. There is also the matter of the small monthly fee that goes along with wireless access. Some providers require you to purchase the boxes and some will lease them to you. There are several companies you can choose from. In my experience these wireless solutions are the easiest and most trouble free of all the options.

It doesn’t matter exactly how your ATM talks to the network for the most basic functions. Pick the one that has the price and features that you care about. If you need any help or advice give the Doctors a call at 1-888-895-7685 or contact us at service@atm-doctors.com

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