By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A company that makes ATM-style kiosks which offer cash for used cell phones is fighting an effort to ban them in Philadelphia. Officials of the firm will appear at a City Council hearing later today.
A council committee is considering a ban on EcoATMs, devices that buy back used phones and that have already been banned in Baltimore. But the devices take precautions.
“To protect you and other EcoATM customers, I also need to collect your thumbprint and your signature, and compare your photo to your ID,” Spokesman Ryan Kuder said.
“We do that so we can identify people who may have passed fraudulent devices through the EcoATM.”
And Kuder says those ID efforts are a deterrent.
“When most people see this screen, if they have a stolen phone in their pocket, they have a tendency to walk away.”
The sponsor of the proposed ban, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, believes the machines would encourage cell phone theft. Kuder says their ID records have already lead to five arrests in Philadelphia.
“In all of those cases we’ve been able to provide them with the information about the sellers. We’ve been able to lead to several arrests with them, and we’ve been able to get the phones returned to the people who lost them.”
There are only two such machines in Philadelphia, both at the Franklin Mills Mall.