Not dead yet: NY takes another run at ‘panic PIN’ legislation

New York assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol submitted legislation (A00649) on January 5, 2015 that would require the State’s banking institutions to install ATM software that enables users to enter a distress PIN to summon police. The same assemblyman introduced the same legislation during the previous legislative session, but the bill failed to make it out of committee.

A spokesperson for Lentol said that the new legislation has been referred to the State’s Banking Committee.

Specifically, Lentol’s measure would amend Section 75-c of the banking law to add the following requirement:

Software that would allow the user to enter his or her personal identification number in a specific manner that would immediately notify local law enforcement personnel that the user is making a withdrawal against his or her own volition, while at the same time allowing the automated teller machine to disperse money to the customer as if there were no problem.

A Stateside Alert reported that according to the Lentol’s office, “[T]his new ATM software could save hundreds of lives by discretely alerting police as well as lead to the quick apprehension of criminals in crimes of theft and or kidnapping.”

Other state legislatures have taken up similar measures, but ultimately abandoned them as being prohibitively expensive and probably of little value. A federally mandated study published by the FTC in April 2010 reached the same conclusions:

… these technologies (1) may not deter any type of ATM crime, and in some instances may actually increase the risk of danger to ATM customers; (2) might entail banks incurring non-trivial costs for their deployment; and (3) could result in at least some false activations that might lead to the inefficient allocation of police resources. 

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