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Montgomery County mulls ban on 'phone ATMs'

Wednesday - 4/9/2014, 7:36am  ET

WASHINGTON -- Forty-three states, including Maryland recently, have passed laws allowing machines that let you trade in old cellphones for cash -- just like an ATM.

It sounds convenient, but Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice says the machines are convenient for cellphone thieves as well -- they can get a quick payday and 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 hold off. He says the new law will "regulate these machines," which will require photo ID, he adds.

He says that "clearly, cellphone theft is a big problem, but I don't think these machines are part of that problem; I think they're part of that solution."

Far from Rice's contention, Garagiola says law enforcement officials across the country have touted the machines as a way to track anyone who tries to cash in illegitimately.

"You're asking to be caught," Garagiola says.

That said, Baltimore City and Baltimore County have banned the machines.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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