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Is Banning 'Phone ATMs' in Montgomery County the Answer to Cellphone Theft?

Maryland law allows kiosks where users can trade in old cellphones for cash, which can be abused by thieves. Montgomery County leaders are considering a ban on the kiosks.

An Annapolis resident, prepares his Samsung Galaxy S4 for examination at an ecoATM phone-recycling kiosk in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. File|Patch
An Annapolis resident, prepares his Samsung Galaxy S4 for examination at an ecoATM phone-recycling kiosk in the Westfield Annapolis Mall. File|Patch

Are machines that let you trade in old cellphones for cash -- just like an ATM -- a convenience for consumers or cellphone thieves?

Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice tells WTOP the machines give thieves a quick payday and lets them disappear. He wants to ban the machines in the county.

Rob Garagiola, a former Maryland senator working on behalf of ecoATM, which makes some of the machines, says that the county should wait. He says Maryland's new law will regulate the machines by requiring photo ID.

Garagiola says law enforcement officials across the country have touted the machines as a way to track anyone who tries to cash in illegitimately.

Baltimore City and Baltimore County have banned the machines.

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