Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Missouri OKs Bill Requiring Attendants for ATM Use

Missouri OKs Bill Requiring Attendants for ATM Use
April 1, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – A close vote in the Missouri Senate on Monday led to approval of a bill that will limit use of automated teller machines in the state to authorized attendants. Referred to as the "Hands Off Your Money" plan it promises to create more local jobs while also cutting down on personal financial instability.

Past legislation has required the use of attendants for pumping gas in the states of Oregon and New Jersey, but this is the first time a ban on self-service has been extended to ATMs. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Kacowt, R – Cashmore, says this measure was long overdue. "We’ve watched too many Missouri citizens lose their jobs to machines and we’re ready to reverse this trend."

Bank and credit union customers will still be able to visit their local ATM for withdrawals and deposits, but they won’t be able to interact with the machines directly. Attendants will take a customer’s card and ask them for their PIN as well as any other instructions on how to carry out their transaction. This will also provide personnel with time to wipe down the customer’s card and make sure withdrawn cash is devoid of drawings or offensive messages.

All attendants will also be trained in basic financial management techniques and can work with customers to make sure they’re making wise decisions. "If a customer is down to their last $100 an attendant can ask them to reconsider whether a night out is really appropriate," said Kacowt. "A computer just won’t care about that."

The bill requires banks to staff ATMs 24/7, which may help to combat late night customer robberies. While attendants will not be armed or allowed to physically intervene in attacks, the law will allow them to shout discouraging remarks at would-be criminals and flash overhead lights.

A fee of $0.50 will be added to all ATM transactions to support the new jobs. Sen. Kacowt said the legislature was glad to fund the measure without further state spending while also making sure that frequent ATM users paid for the privilege. "Think of this as a concierge service for your wallet," Kacowt said.

Not everyone is excited about this change. Melanie Scotts, a mother from Independence, said she doesn’t need another person involved in her banking. "I look forward to the solitude of using an ATM. It’s just me and the machine -- the rest of the world melts away for those few minutes, until the beeping reminder to take my transaction slip jolts me back to reality."

The bill is expected to be signed into law today by Gov. Jay Nixon, and will take effect on April 31st.

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