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Thursday, July 27, 2017

NAC, congressional leaders discuss ATM issues

The National ATM Council Inc. directors and members met with members and staff of the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee, July 18 and 19, 2017, to address ongoing concerns about Operation Chokepoint and related ATM industry issues. NAC's ATMs go to Washington initiative sought to educate congressional leaders about the retail ATM sector and debunk common misconceptions about the industry.

"Numerous ATM owners, operators and vendors traveled at their own expense, from as far away as California, to attend these historic congressional meetings," said NAC Executive Director Bruce Renard. "Key policymakers heard directly from the U.S. independent ATM community and gained solid insights into the true nature and importance of our sector to the U.S. economy."

NAC Chairman and Access One Solutions Chief Executive Officer George Sarantopoulos added, "Independent ATM owners need to be politically involved on a local and national level to protect their businesses. Our meetings provided policymakers with an overview of the retail ATM industry and a better understanding of how ATM owners and operators contribute to local communities and the national economy."

Positive, bipartisan support

Democrats, Republicans and bank regulators who attended the meetings agreed to help NAC members resolve their most pressing issues, which include bank closures and blacklisting of ATM operators by some of the nation's largest banks, Renard noted. "Most of the ATMs in the United States are independently owned and operated," he stated. "Retail ATMs are a critical vehicle by which government programs, benefits and cash are distributed to those in need."

Renard said none of the policymakers who attended the meetings saw the plight of independent ATM owners as a partisan issue. Most were cordial to NAC members and receptive to their concerns. "It was evident in our meetings that policymakers understood the impact of bank closures on ATM operators," he said. "Many have been mistakenly targeted as cash businesses by Operation Chokepoint, even though getting into and staying in the ATM business requires intensive screening and vetting."

Debunking myths

Renard and Sarantopoulos said the meetings gave NAC members the opportunity to address several misconceptions about retail ATMs being perpetrated as follows:

  • 2017 card fraud report: A FICO report, published in March 2017, cites compromised credit card activity at retail ATMs without identifying where the card data was stolen. In many cases, the card data was stolen elsewhere and subsequently used to withdraw cash at an ATM, NAC representatives stated.

  • 2016 card skimming report: In 2016, FICO reported a record number of card skimming devices had been at retail nonbank ATMs. NAC disputed these findings by surveying over 160 ATM companies, and found that nine out of 10 retail ATM providers had never found a skimming device on their ATMs. In fact, the Krebs on Security website disclosed that most card skimming incidents have occurred at bank ATMs, which are generally less trafficked and more appealing to criminals, NAC reported.

  • Escalating ATM fees: ATM surcharges have not skyrocketed; they are displayed on ATM screens, and consumers can opt out and use another ATM, according to NAC. The fees, which average $2.60, have remained stable for years but are sometimes mistaken for foreign ATM fees, assessed by banks for using an ATM outside the traditional banking footprint. These fees are frequently not disclosed until they appear on a consumer's bank statement, NAC representatives stated.

Optimistic outlook

Renard and Sarantopoulos said they were pleased by the positive reception on Capitol Hill and look forward to continuing their work with state and federal lawmakers on behalf of NAC members. "NAC conducted productive and informative meetings with federal bank regulators charged with oversight of these vital matters," Renard stated.

Curt Selman, President of Selman Telecommunications Investment Group, added, "I am pleased to see the industry turn out to let their elected officials know the challenges they are facing. The days of silently hoping things will turn out for the best are over and I was encouraged to see how many operators understand that." end of article

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