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ONTARIO, Calif. – CO-OP Network, the nation’s largest credit union owned, surcharge-free ATM network, along with California credit unions, are keeping an eye on potential California legislation that could require independent service organizations which place ATMs to be licensed or otherwise regulated. According to Mark Lowe, public relations specialist with the California Credit Union League, three Democratic legislators in Sacramento have signaled their definite intentions to introduce legislation this month, and Lowe anticipated the introduction would come soon. The legislative members, Dario Frommer from Glendale, Sarah Reyes from Fresno and Patricia Wiggins from Santa Rosa, have said they are interested in legislation as a way to help consumers protect their identities from theft, a goal which Lowe said California credit unions support as well. “But without actually seeing proposed legislative language we really can’t comment further,” he added. The push for the possible regulation has arisen after what amounted to a dummy ATM being placed in a small shop in New York City and used to capture the card and personal identification numbers from consumers trying to use the machine. The incident has sparked stories in the media and calls for regulation at the Federal level from Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Jim Hanisch, Executive Vice President with CO-OP Network, blamed the media attention for helping to raise the topic among the California legislators. Credit unions need to pay attention to this possible legislation, Hanisch explained, because the only way an ISO can place an ATM that participates in one of the nationwide networks affiliated with Visa or Mastercard is if they have some sort of relationship with a chartered financial institution like a bank or credit union. Whether or not legislation is introduced or passed, Hanisch said, the rise of this topic means that credit unions may have to begin paying close attention to any ISOs with whom they have relationships. Currently neither CO-OP Network, nor Cirrus or Plus networks (affiliated with MasterCard and Visa) have any reliable statistics on what percentage of banks or credit unions rent out their charters to ISOs which place ATMs. But Hanisch pointed out that with well over half the ATMs in the nation being placed by an ISO of some sort, it only stood to reason that the number of financial institutions which are involved in the business might be significant. Hanisch also said that the talk of regulation he had heard so far had led him to believe legislators would not be looking to include credit unions or banks in the ISO licensing process, since they were already effectively licensed and regulated. -

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