Is your Bank Teller your Biggest Threat?

Is your Bank Teller your Biggest Threat?

If you were asked to imagine up a scenario in which a bank was robbed, would it include men with masks holding people hostage and demanding money from a teller at gunpoint? I believe that would be image most people would conjure up, but today the biggest threat to your bank account could be on the other side of the counter.

As concerns over identity theft and cybersecurity rise, customers tend to be unaware of the growing threat just around the corner: bank tellers and managers who have instant access not only to their critical person information, but also to their cash.

Most of the focus these days has been place on bank fraud and the sophisticated hackers who commit the crime, but it is the more dull figure of the teller behind the window who should worry you most.

A.T.M.s, direct deposit and electronic banking has diminished the role of a bank teller, to the point that their work is now low paid and, prosecutors say, occasionally criminal.

Rich and elderly bank customers are particularly at risk, when tellers and other retail-brand employees tap into accounts to wire funds without authorization, make fake debit cards to withdraw money from A.T.M.s and sell off personal information to other criminals.  Accounts with high balances and those with direct deposits of government funds, like Social Security payments, are especially coveted.

Last year, a teller in White Plains, New York was sentenced to six years in prison for her role in an identity theft ring that stole $850,000 from bank accounts. Another New York teller in 2014, was sentenced for gaining access to seven accounts and passing customer information to a co-conspirator who drew checks on the accounts.

Elsewhere, a Pennsylvania teller was caught withdrawing money from accounts while a Manhattan teller was sentenced for using information to receive tax refunds that he routed himself. A former Connecticut teller took cellphone photos of account information and used that to cash fraudulent checks and a former Virginia credit-union teller took out loans from the union in customer’s names. The money she stole ultimately led to the credit union’s collapse.

Bringing charges against these tellers and low-level managers can be challenging because of the banks’ lax security controls and gaps in regulation. Despite their importance, the tellers and managers are not subject to background checks.

Under laws passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, banks are required to thoroughly vet their customers and closely monitor accounts to detect any suspicious activity. The same level of scrutiny does not always apply to the tellers, according to prosecutors. Sometimes, little more than a basic criminal-background check is performed.

For now, banks generally address the issue by reimbursing customers for any losses.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.


  • The Need for a Comprehensive Strategy Addressing Cybersecurity and Quantum Technology

    The Need for a Comprehensive Strategy Addressing Cybersecurity and Quantum Technology

    Over the past two years, the Biden Administration has taken a series of steps centered on quantum and cybersecurity. Read Now

  • IoT Saves the Day

    IoT Saves the Day

    Today, creating a safe environment across schools, hotels, office buildings, housing complexes and other facilities has become a necessity. There are so many dangers lurking in buildings of all sizes and shapes from fire hazards, vaping issues, chemical/air quality issues, intruders and so much more. Read Now

  • One Pane, Less Pain

    One Pane, Less Pain

    Just because a solution is built on an open-standards platform doesn’t ensure that all the vendors’ systems will work together as promised. Some features may not be supported, or not supported to their fullest potential. Read Now

  • Revamping Wrigley Field

    Revamping Wrigley Field

    When talking about baseball in the United States, it’s hard not to think of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field. With a history spanning more than 100 years, the Chicago Cubs are one of the most recognized teams in professional sports. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • HID Signo Readers

    HID Signo Readers

    HID Global has announced its HID® Signo™ Biometric Reader 25B that is designed to capture and read fingerprints in real-world applications and conditions. 3

  • QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC)

    The latest Qualcomm® Vision Intelligence Platform offers next-generation smart camera IoT solutions to improve safety and security across enterprises, cities and spaces. The Vision Intelligence Platform was expanded in March 2022 with the introduction of the QCS7230 System-on-Chip (SoC), which delivers superior artificial intelligence (AI) inferencing at the edge. 3

  • Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls Application Spec Guide

    Camden Door Controls, an industry-leading provider of innovative, high quality door activation and locking products, has published a new application spec guide for specification writers designing a wireless barrier-free restroom control system. 3