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An Open Letter to Bank of America

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Message Kathryn Smith


Bank of America
100 North Tryon Street, 18th Floor
Charlotte, NC 28255

RE: Public complaint concerning ATM machine privacy violations


I was standing in line for the ATM machine at a Bank of America branch.

“They can’t keep using these machines” said a middle-aged man who was making a deposit. “It just plain takes too long to feed all these checks in, one by one. It used to be so much easier and faster, when you could deposit them into one envelope all together”.

“It’s a privacy violation” I interjected. “When you deposit the check, and the details are all blown up on the screen, the print is so big. Anyone can see who made the check out to you, their address at home, the dollar amount of the check, etc”.

“Yes” the guy agreed “the image on screen is so huge that they could see the check you are depositing, from across the street. They‘d have to be almost blind not to” he added.

I continued:

“If someone was standing behind you at the ATM machine, and saw a large check being deposited, they could….copy the name of the maker of the check, write down their address and phone number, and show up at their door. They could stalk me or you just for depositing it. These new ATM machines, by blowing up the image of the deposited checks so enormously large, are an invitation to identity theft and stalking. We never know who is going to stand in line behind us at the ATM machine”.

“You are right” said another man in his 60s who was present.

“Who came up with the idea of these new ATM’s anyway?” asked another customer in her 30s.

“The government?” I suggested, thinking of the Patriot Act.

Snort responded the woman, rolling her eyes.

I stated that casually blowing our private financial and residential information to the winds is a 4th amendment violation, and that there ought to be class action lawsuits. All three customers, who were present and using the ATM machines, agreed with me. Keep in mind that we were all strangers to each other. Wow! I sure was glad that I wasn’t the only person present who feels that way.

I used to work as a Bank of America teller in my twenties. When I did, I was specifically instructed by BofA personnel about…..customer privacy and how critically important it is to protect it. About looters raiding *bank* garbage cans, very specifically. Not one receipt or one deposit slip could be allowed into the garbage until it was shredded. I was almost fired for peeking at someone’s account statistics.

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This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activism: "Necessity is the plea for every infringement on human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves". --Paul (more...)
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