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Dummy Surveillance Cameras

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Do you recommend the use of "Simulated," "Dummy," or "Fake" surveillance cameras to augment genuine camera placements? Manufacturers and distributors of these non-functioning devices suggest installing one or more of these cameras is one of the best ways to provide security and reduce costs. Their marketing material suggests that dummy cameras can help deter crime when appropriately utilized with real equipment. For example: The appearance of security can be enough to scare off criminals and having some deterrence is better than having none at all, fake cameras do not require circuitry or connections and can be installed virtually anywhere, the dummy cameras will deter inexperienced, low-level criminals.

A fake or dummy security camera is a non-functioning device designed to appear like a real closed-circuit television camera. It is often used as a deterrent in less vulnerable areas. Fake cameras are generally deployed as a mere psychological means to prevent criminal behavior.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) both require that financial institutions maintain active security camera systems. However, the regulators have not provided specific guidelines about the requirements for those surveillance systems.

We recognize that banks and credit unions still experience crime inside and outside their facilities despite the extensive use of security cameras. However, we do not recommend using a dummy or fake surveillance cameras by financial institutions in any capacity. We also strongly recommend that inoperative cameras be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Our recommendations are based on several factors.

Unconvincing visual appearances. Seasoned criminals will generally be able to identify fake surveillance cameras, despite blinking LED lights.

Dummy cameras can create a "False Sense of Security." Suppose a customer or staff member is attacked outside your bank or in a parking lot "secured" by a dummy camera. In that case, they may be able to argue in court that they relied on the false sense of security offered by the purported video surveillance. This reliance on false protection could lead to financial liability for the financial institution.

Additional legal risks and implications. Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) installations abide by strict laws and regulations, and real or fake cameras must adhere to those rules.

In conclusion. Banks and credit unions are generally heavily-protected businesses with physical security measures, including vaults, alarms, guards, and bullet resistant barriers. The CCTV surveillance systems are the backbone of the financial institution's security program. They serve as a layer of deterrence and provide a virtual record of almost everything happening within and outside the facility. Prominently placed cameras covering doors, exits, teller windows, and other spaces remind potential robbers, burglars, and fraudsters that they are being watched and recorded. Undermining the value of the CCTV surveillance system with non-functioning dummy cameras is both counterproductive and risky.

This Q&A originally appeared in Bankers' Hotline. For more information, sample issues, and to subscribe, click here or email

First published on 11/21/2021

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