ATM card capture crime soars in EU; pressure grown on US to move to EMV

ATM card capture crime soars in EU; pressure grown on US to move to EMV

The European ATM Security Team (East) is reporting a sharp rise in losses from 'card trapping' scams at European cash machines for the first six months of 2009.

While card skimming incidents are down by 19% (from 5,693 to 4,629 incidents), card trapping incidents have increased by 640% (from 141 to 1,045 incidents). In the same period, losses due to card skimming dropped 30% from €222 million to €156 million, while losses from card trapping soared nearly 900% from €0.59 million to €5.8 million.

The release of the data coincides with reports of a rash of card capture scams at Barclays cash machines across the UK. The fraud - known as a 'Lebanese Loop' - is understood to be orchestrated by a network of Eastern European criminals.

Data compromise from cases of hacking or other fraud at data processors is another emerging threat that East is monitoring. Initial cases have been reported in the Ukraine, the USA and the Dominican Republic.

Overall, however, ATM card fraud has remained relatively stable, showing a marginal increase of just one per cent, a figure which East attributes to the near-complete European roll-out of the EMV security standard.

East director and coordinator, Lachlan Gunn says: "The fact that skimming incidents and losses appear to be finally decreasing is encouraging for the industry, after the major investment that has been put into EMV. As other parts of the world also roll out EMV, concern remains that the USA appears to have no plans to follow suit. A significant part of overall European losses now occur there."

Pressure is growing on the US banking industry to convert their legacy mag-stripe cards to smart chip-based EMV cards or face an epidemic of fraud losses as criminals concentrate their activities on US shores.

In a paper published yesterday, the Smart Card Alliance called on the US banking industry to increase its investment in contactless payment technologies and move to the global EMV standard.

"To further the momentum of current contactless deployments, the US payments industry needs additional infrastructure investment. Merchants, acquirers, and issuers need to continue to invest in infrastructure that supports dynamic authentication," states the Alliance. "Planning for these investments should be undertaken now to determine the optimal distribution of cost over time. These plans should also include the eventual migration of the US to globally-interoperable EMV cards and terminals. Once EMV-enabled, the United States will benefit from the same highly secure and globally interoperable payments infrastructure as the rest of the world."

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