Tight Security Sought at N.Y. ATMs; City Council Member Issues a Tough New Proposal

By Barthel, Matt | American Banker, December 18, 1991 | Go to article overview

Tight Security Sought at N.Y. ATMs; City Council Member Issues a Tough New Proposal


Barthel, Matt, American Banker


Citing her own recent experience with ATM crime, a New York City Council member is advocating stricter security requirements for bank machines.

Ronnie Eldridge - a council member from Manhattan's Upper West Side who lost a small amount of cash to her assailant - has introduced a bill that would set specific requirements for suveillance cameras, security mirrors, and visibility at ATM sites.

If the ATM security measures are passed, New York would have the most comprehensive requirements of any city in the nation.

Ms. Eldridge said she hopes other cities follow New York's lead.

A Leadership Position

"When I was robbed at an ATM, I was surprised by the relative indifference of the bank [to security]" said Ms. Eldridge, who is married to New York newspaper columnist Jimmy Breslin and was first elected in 1989.

"After a little investigation, I found it was a citywide problem, and I decided to do something about it."

The investigation to which Ms. Eldridge refers consisted of a survey by the Office of Legislative Oversight and Investigation of almost one-third of New York City's 716 automated teller machine sites.

The survey found that while lighting and visibility of the ATM fro mthe street was adequate in most cases, the interiors of nearly 40% of the sites allowed a person to hide undetected by customers, and were thus deemed "dangerous."

22% Have Security Cameras

In addition, the survey teams found that only 22% of the indoor ATMs had security cameras to record transaction activity in the area.

And 25% of the sites contained no means for customers to communicate to security personnel in an emergency.

Much of the city council's bill targets these areas for renovations.

Among the requirements: two cameras per site and ATM-enclosure access devices that distinguish bank cards from other types of plastic with magnetic stripes.

Also, the law would prohibit the installation of any new outdoor units.

Banks Have Different View

Some New York City banks oppose the legislation, claiming that vying for business in the most competitive retail market in the nation, New York's banks are already having a hard time squeezing profit from their automated operations. …

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