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Legislation To Improve ATM Safety Faces Opposition From Banks

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BOSTON (CBS) – Legislation to improve safety at ATMs has been up for debate for 15 years gaining little traction and facing opposition from the banking industry.

State Rep. Kay Khan (D-Newton) is one of 19 legislators who signed on to co-sponsor a bill to improve safety at ATMs last year after the murder of Amy Lord.

The South Boston woman was abducted by a stranger and forced to withdraw money from several machines.

If the proposed bill is signed into law, ATMs would need adequate lighting, card-activated doors that work, transparent glass, interior mirrors and a panic button or reverse pin that alerts police.

“I think in this situation people we’re looking around at lots of possibilities for helping keep people safe,” Khan told WBZ-TV’s Bree Sison. “For the banks, obviously it will cost them some money to do all of this but I would hope that they would think of this as protecting their own customers.”

Banking trade groups say protecting customers is a priority but the Massachusetts Bankers Association says this widely supported bill forces a one-size-fits-all approach.

“We just don’t want consumers being required to capture criminals or being caught in a cross-fire,” said Daniel Forte, president of the Mass. Bankers Association.

Forte said bankers’ biggest concern is the reverse pin or panic button requirement. They fear it could create a more dangerous situation or trigger a lot of false alarms.

Forte said the Mass. Bankers Association is willing to work with legislators but technology advances make it difficult to craft specific legislation that is good for the long term.

For now, this bill sits right where it did last year– waiting to be approved by the Financial Services Committee.

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