Chicago Considers ATM Legislation Making Security Measures Mandatory

Article excerpt

The Chicago City Council has introduced an ordinance designed to improve security at the city's automated teller machines.

The legislation would establish minimum lighting standards for selected ATM sites, while also placing new reporting responsibilities on Chicago-based financial institutions, which have more than 800 machines in place.

Chicago would not be the first place such legislation had been enacted. New York City, Ann Arbor, Mich., and several states have laws requiring banks to install security measures around ATMs.

Surprise Move

But the bill put before the Chicago City Council on Nov. 5 nonetheless came as a surprise to many observers.

Despite a much-publicized abduction, robbery, and murder of a Chicago ATM user in 1989 - a crime that many credit with putting ATM security on the national agenda - Chicago banks have thus far managed to avoid legislation by submitting voluntarily to standards recommended by the police and legislators.

Yet legislators and executives at the major Illinois ATM network, Cash Station, believe the need still exists to get the legislation on the books.

The Requirements

"We believe the vast majority of financial institutions in this area behave responsibly, but there is a small portion of the bank population for which the legislation is necessary," said Stephen S. Cole, president of Chicago-based Cash Station, which connects about 2,000 ATMs.

The legislation would require banks doing business in Chicago to adhere to minimum lighting standards for ATM sites away from banking offices.

Many of the off-premises sites will be exempt from the law by virtue of their being located in high-traffic areas.

In addition, the law would require financial institutions that use Chicago as their "principal place of business" to furnish all ATM cardholders with safety information on a regular basis.

Finally, Chicago-based banks would have to record and report to the city clerk their security measures and the incidence of crimes at each ATM location within city limits.

Not as Stringent as Others

People familiar with ATM security laws said the Chicago proposals are not nearly as demanding as measures in other areas.

In New York, which has what is widely recognized as the nation's most stringent ATM security law, every ATM site within city limits must have a video camera, mirrors that allow customers to see behind them during a transaction, and adequate lighting. …