ATM Machine Laws

By Candy Waters
ATMs owned by banking institutions must comply with U.S. federal laws.

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Automated teller machines, more commonly referred to as ATMs, offer 24-hour convenience for anyone in need of a quick cash withdrawal or deposit. There are different laws for these machines, depending on whether they are owned by banking institutions or operated by individuals. Whether you are a new debit card holder or have been using ATMs since their inception, it's important to know the different ATM laws and how they affect you as a consumer.

Video Surveillance

ATMs located within banking institutions must meet certain requirements under federal law. Any analog surveillance system operated by the banking facility must use a commercial or industrial grade videotape. The tape should only be used once from beginning to end within a 30-day period. The videotape can be recorded over after this period of time, however, the same tape should not be used more than 12 times in total and must be replaced within 365 days from the date of its first use. Once the tape has been used, the banking facility must hold onto it for at least 45 days.

Lighting Regulations and Statutes

Banks and other institutions that operate ATMs must comply with U.S. federal laws, namely the Federal Electronic Funds Transfer Act and the Bank Protection Act. These laws, however, primarily address the security of the ATMs themselves rather than the ATM users' safety. Currently, there is no federal law that requires minimum-security standards to protect ATM users. To remedy this, several states, including California, Texas, Florida and New York, have passed their own laws regarding security standards for ATMs. Most of these state laws set minimum standards for lighting, landscaping, visibility, security, reviews and customer safety tips.

Non-Bank Owned ATMs

ATMs that are not owned by a state or federal agency must abide by a different set of rules and regulations. Unlike banking ATMs, these machines must only be used for dispensing cash and under no circumstances can accept deposits. Non-bank owned ATMs must display a logotype or identification symbol alerting the customer as to whether or not his card will be accepted. Owners may impose a surcharge, as long as they clearly disclose it to the consumer both by a sign on the ATM and electronically on the terminal screen. It is possible for anyone to own a cash-dispensing ATM, provided they file a notice of ownership with their local commissioner within 60 days of ownership. Non-bank ATM owners must also file an annual notice of ownership.

About the Author

Based in Austin, Texas, Candy Waters has been a freelance editor and writer since 2006. Waters has contributed to several metropolitan publications including the "Chicago Sun-Times," Centerstagechicago.com and BizBash Media, among others. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing from Grand Valley State University.

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