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Thin ATM skimmers new concern

By Allison Ross ·
Friday, July 11, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

This season's crop of ATM skimmers is going slim and mini, and the vogue style is concerning fraud experts and banks.

The European ATM Security Team, which collects information on ATM fraud, this month published its latest report, which noted that the new mini-skimmer has been found by a member country.

© Thomas Frey/dpa/Corbis

This photo shows an ATM skimmer from the past. Thieves have since updated the technology. © Thomas Frey/dpa/Corbis

Brian Krebs, a security blogger and fraud expert, wrote about the report in his blog, noting that "while most card skimmers are made to sit directly on top of the existing card slot, these newer mini-skimmers fit snugly inside the card reader throat, obscuring most of the device."

In short, while ATM skimmers have been around a long time, these littler skimmers are harder to spot. That creates even more of a headache for those trying to keep fraudsters away from customers' money.

ATM skimming "continues to be a significant source of pain" for financial institutions and lucrative business for organized crime rings, says Julie Conroy, a research director with Aite Group who covers banking and fraud.

Indeed, a recent survey by the ATM Industry Association found that skimming was seen by industry members as by far the largest security threat.

Conroy says she's seeing an increase in technology to combat skimmers, such as video cameras that alert security if people are standing for an unusually long time in front of an ATM, since that could be a sign they may be inserting a skimmer. She says more banks are also doing regular physical checks of branch ATMs to check for skimmers.

Move to EMV

While much of Europe is moving to cards with chips, the U.S. has not yet done so in any great way. Krebs, in his blog, says that means the magnetic stripe data stolen from ATM skimmers in Europe will be shipped "over to thieves here in the U.S., who then can encode the stolen card data onto fresh (chipless) cards and pull cash out of the machines here and in Latin America."

Conroy says the U.S.'s migration to EMV cards (for Europay, MasterCard and Visa "will certainly help over time, but MasterCard's liability shift at the ATM doesn't take place until October 2016, and Visa's is not until the following year, so mag-stripe-reliant ATMs will continue to be the norm for some time."

Do you check for anything out of place when you go to the ATM?

For another security threat facing ATMs, check out "Banks warned about ATM attacks."

Follow me on twitter: @allisonsross.

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August 05, 2014 at 8:24 am

The insolence of the Banking industry is abhorrent! To not protect those who fuel it's enormous profits will only hasten the demise of this industry which has shown itself to be as predatory as the Insurance Industry!

Stephan Patterson
July 17, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Someone has to make these devices, this sounds like some big shots are in on the scam. Who has the know how and tech to make these fake devices. I don't think this is simple and since this is happening in more than one place you can rule out that it is a single individual, someone is manufacturing these devices, it is amazing to me they have not been caught which leads me to believe that some big shot is behind these devices.

July 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Banks should have finger prints installed on cards as well as being identified by finger prints, not just on the card alone.I have been to places where you have to scan all five fingers on your hand, and had to get four to match before you could go any further.If your hand was taped up or wrapped up due to an accident, you might as well not go there. Every finger was done individually, this would help a lot.

July 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm

I agree with Frank, perhaps fingerprinting is the way to go. For years I've said the day will come when we'll all have a tiny computer chip inserted in our finger. At first I said it jokingly, now I'm not so sure. It definitely sounds socialistic and "big brother," but the world of today (and tomorrow) might just make this idea sound pretty good!

July 12, 2014 at 8:34 am

This just happened to me in Spain. We have only swiped the card once, at a public ATM and, within 2 hours someone in Philly tried to spend $200 at a supermarket. It is a headache. Now the ATM card that I use for a lot of automatic payments is void.

July 12, 2014 at 12:28 am

The problem is we have been using the same technology for over twenty years now. The banks need to give up a little profit and improve their technology. But that would cost them some money. They'd rather just buy insurance.

Irwin Ruback
July 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Are there any reliable statistics on theft by magnetic skimmers collecting data by merely close contact with purses and wallets? If so, is there any proof of the efficacy of the the new fad of aluminum or carbon fiber credit card wallets?

stan goldberg
July 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm

best way to avoid this go into the bank like we did for years. Rge banks do not what you inside ,for that means that they have to tellers to provide good customer service. But that would mean money from huge profited WHAT A SHAME

July 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

What's wrong? ATM's, Banking on line? Wireless phone banking?
All risky. Best to go back to more sensible banking, not as
convenient, not as swift, but secure. Anything outside a bank
or anytime we are on the internet, the hackers and bad guys have
access. Don't believe it? Read the papers, listen to the news.
Still banks are looking for an easier way to access your accounts
with little regard to the security needed to protect your accounts. How about a magnetic card reader, where they can
simply walk close to a person and read all the bank cards
on their person. It is time banks became more responsible
and inform the public that any credit card clearing on line
is putting their customer's information at risk. Stop the
insanity don't you think. Cyber breaches are on the rise, we
must learn to protect ourselves or suffer the consequences.

Frank Gonzales
July 11, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Perhaps adding fingerprint readers to ATM's would increase security.

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