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Bank of America Corp. and Union Bank N.A. say they want to learn more about a Los Angeles city councilman's proposal to improve ATM safety following the murder of a teenager in July. Union Bank says it wants to meet with Councilman Greig Smith, and BofA says it wants to share with Smith industry and law-enforcement findings about crimes at ATMs. Smith has proposed that banks fit ATMs with a "duress code" system that enables users to enter their four-digit PINs backward to alert police when someone is forcing them to withdraw funds at gunpoint. The Los Angeles City Council referred the legislation to its public safety committee, which Smith chairs. "I have not scheduled hearings yet, but I hope to hold them by the end of the month or early next month," Smith tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. A system in which a cardholder can enter a PIN backward has been available since the 1980s, but several ATM industry officials who requested anonymity are against it. They contend many PINs are palindromes in that they are the same when keyed in either way. "It is not the best thing for ATM safety," one executive says. Smith's proposal came after a robber killed a 17-year-old girl after she was unable to withdraw money from a Union Bank ATM.

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