'Eco ATM' machines gaining popularity in the Midstate - abc27 WHTM

'Eco ATM' machines gaining popularity in the Midstate

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We all have them -- old model cell phones taking up space on the shelf. Comprised of toxic chemicals, you're not supposed to throw them away. Now there's a new way to dispose of them in return for quick cash.

'Eco ATM' is a company based out of San Diego, and has more than 1,000 kiosks nationwide. Recently, one went in at the Capital City Mall in Camp Hill.

Anyone can use Eco ATM by bringing in old cell phones, MP3 players or tablets and depositing them in the kiosk. The machine then does the work, scanning the device for viruses or flagging it as stolen before quoting a price.

Some shoppers told abc27 they got anywhere from $100-$300 for newer model iPhones and Androids. Others with older devices said they'd rather take to eBay or Craig's List, where they can get more competitive prices.

"I got $16 today for my third generation iPod Touch -- not bad," said Adam Vogelsong of Lewisberry, who said he'd be using the cash he made to buy gas.

Critics, however, say there are security concerns with this concept. Some cities, like Baltimore, are actually looking to ban the kiosks altogether because criminals are snatching phones right off the street to sell.

"Technology changes and so do the criminals, and unfortunately sometimes we're only a step behind them," Lower Allen Township Police Chief Frank Williamson said. "This would appear to be a quick way to get some cash."

Williamson said when the machines were first installed about a month and a half ago, his police officers were briefed on theft concerns. But he said they were relatively impressed with the company's security measures.

Eco ATM requires a valid license, a photo verification and a thumb print before any money can been issued. If the computer, which is monitored in real-time by ECO ATM employees in California, suspects the phone is stolen, it will deny the transaction. 

"We're going to have a pretty good idea who dropped it off and if not, we can circulate a picture and someone will hopefully call us," he said.

Eco ATM machines are also located at Colonial Park Mall in Harrisburg and the York Galleria Mall.

For more information on pricing and how the company recycles electronics, go to www.ecoatm.com.

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