Skimming attacks at European ATMs rise 24%

The latest European ATM Crime Report published by EAST (the European ATM Security Team), shows a 24% increase in card skimming attacks at European ATMs. 5,743 attacks were reported for the period January to June 2010, compared with 4,629 for the same period in 2009. For the same periods, skimming related losses fell from €156 million to €144 million.

This is the largest number of such attacks reported in a six month period since EAST first began recording these statistics in 2004, although not all countries are reporting increases.

In several cases there have been significant falls in skimming attacks. Anti-skimming measures are now in place at many European ATMs and throughout Europe initiatives are in place to encourage cardholders to shield their PIN at ATMs and payment terminals.

EAST Director and co-ordinator, Lachlan Gunn said, “The industry is concerned to see the number of attacks rising after the substantial investment that has been put into EMV (chip and PIN) technology, a field where Europe is leading the rest of the world. Unfortunately as long as European EMV cards have a magnetic stripe on them, that stripe is vulnerable to skimming.

Chip only debit cards are now starting to appear, which will hopefully help to address this issue. Cardholders should feel reassured that, even if their card details are skimmed, they are not held liable should there be subsequent losses. The really good news, from our perspective, is the continuing fall in skimming related losses.”

The EAST report shows that ATM related card skimming losses have now fallen consecutively for the last five reporting periods, from a high of €315 million in the second half of 2007, to the €144 million just reported. The continuing fall is believed to be as a direct result of the effectiveness of the EMV rollout, as compromised European cards are increasingly being used outside of the 31 countries of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA).

Domestic losses (losses from national cards within national borders) have fallen 41%, from €41 million in the first half of 2009, to €24 million. International losses (losses from national cards outside national borders) have risen 4% from €114 million to €119 million. A significant part of these international losses are now occurring outside Europe in areas where EMV has not yet been implemented.

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