National ATM Council hits out at Fico report on card skimming

Source: National ATM Council

The National ATM Council, Inc. (NAC) has announced the results of its 2017 U.S. Retail ATM Skimming Survey (Survey).

Results demonstrate the number of card skimming incidents at U.S. Independent retail ATM locations remains very low - with 9 of 10 survey participants reporting never having encountered a single skimming device on their ATM routes

The Survey was designed to ascertain the current level and nature of card skimming activity (theft of card/PIN data) at retail ATMs in the U.S. Respondents to this year's annual survey included 151 ATM companies representing a diverse and statistically significant sample of the total U.S. retail ATM base. A large majority (70%) of the ATM providers responding to the Survey have operated in the ATM business for over ten years.

The large majority of respondents (89%) have ATM business protocols that involve regular checks of their ATM terminals and provide consumers with a phone number to call in case of any irregularities at the machines (87%). Four respondents this year reported seeing six or more instances of skimming activity on their routes, compared with two respondents in 2016 - a definite year over year increase, but still entailing a minuscule number of incidents out of the many tens of thousands of ATMs and millions of transactions covered by the Survey.

"NAC has long anticipated some level of increase in skimming at Independent ATMs during the transition to EMV chip card technology now underway for all ATMs in the U.S.," said Bruce Renard, Executive Director for NAC. "Data we have seen from other countries indicates increased skimming activity during this migration period. We are pleased that the vast majority of retail ATMs in the U.S. has remained free from skimming activity thus far."

When provided the opportunity for additional comment regarding skimming at their ATMs, Survey respondents forcefully rejected any suggestion that retail ATMs constituted a significant target for card skimming. "Each and every ATM on my route is visually inspected, the customer fascia area cleaned and test transaction performed. The armored personnel do the same on their routes," said one respondent. Another commented, "While other types of payment terminals have had skimming devices found in our area, none of the more than 1,200 ATMs that we have ownership or processing interest in over the last 18 years has ever had a skimming device found on them."

The findings of NAC's 2017 Retail ATM Skimming Survey comport with clarifications provided by FICO in a recent article regarding the rarity of card data theft at retail ATMs. "...NAC is right in its claim that the vast majority of ATMs did not suffer a compromise last year," stated T.J. Horan, Vice President of Fraud Solutions for FICO. "A very small percentage of ATMs are compromised each year."

"Especially in light of these most recent survey results, NAC appreciates FICO's clarification of its recent report on card fraud at retail ATMs, making clear that the number of actual card skimming incidents for non-bank ATMs remains very low," said NAC Board Chair George Sarantopoulos of Access One Solutions in New York. "NAC was concerned with the way FICO originally presented its data and with the headlines it generated, giving consumers the erroneous impression that card skimming was rampant at retail ATMs. We as ATM operators know firsthand, as confirmed by the latest survey data, that retail ATMs are one of the safest places to get your cash, and card skimming at these ATM terminals remains extremely rare."

NAC Vice-Chair, Patrick Conner of, based in Los Angeles, commented, "NAC has been unable to reconcile FICO's recent contentions that it is not owned by banks. A quick review of NASDAQ's listing of FICO's largest shareholders shows that several of the largest U.S. depository institutions, Bank of N.Y. Mellon Corp., JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and others are listed as major shareholders that own large amounts of FICO stock.

"NAC is in full agreement with FICO as to the need for vigilance on the part of ATM operators, merchants and consumers whenever conducting an ATM transaction," Conner continued, "which is why NAC worked with Conexxus to develop the Skimming Detection and Deterrence - Quick Reference Guide as a general 'best practices' field resource for our nation's convenience store merchants and ATM operators."

For consumer safety, security experts agree the best protections against skimming are to jiggle the card reader and always cover your hand when entering your PIN.

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