Councilwoman wants to cut off phone-buying kiosks in Philadelphia

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A Philadelphia councilwoman wants to ban automatic kiosks where people can sell their old cell phones. She’s worried it will make it too easy for thieves to get cash for stolen phones.

So far, there is only one automatic kiosk in Philadelphia  where people can sell their old iPods or phones for cash.

Councilwoman Blondell Renyolds Brown says she wants to get rid of it and stop others from setting up shop.

“Philadelphia is the No. 1 of the top 10 cities when it comes to smartphone thefts, occurring most frequently on mass transit on college campuses,” Brown said Friday. “So if we can find some way to conduct a pre-emptive strike, then we need to look at it.”

The company that owns the kiosk takes many steps to prevent people from cashing in on stolen phones, said Ryan Kuder of ECO ATM.

“We collect thumbprints, we take photographs of our sellers, we require an ID to be scanned and be verified real time by a human,” he said, “We get identifying information for the phone. We voluntarily report every transaction we do to the local police.”

Kuder, who said a few stolen phones have been processed, said they amount to less than 1 percent of the business. Stolen phones are returned to their rightful owners free of charge, he said.

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