Financial losses from European ATM fraud declined in 2009 as more deployers began installing EMV-compliant machines.

The European ATM Security Team Ltd., which received incident reports from 23 European countries, is reporting 312 million euros (US$423.8 million) in total losses from ATM fraud last year, down 35.5% from 484 million euros in 2008.

The 23 countries, members of the Single Euro Payments Area, include France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. The countries had an installed ATM base of 368,558 machines out of a total of 391,000 ATMs deployed throughout Europe. Seven SEPA countries, including Iceland, The Czech Republic and Bulgaria, did not provide fraud-loss reports.

“Skimming” attacks, in which thieves attempt to capture card numbers and PINs to produce counterfeit cards, declined 1.1% last year, to 10,184 reported incidents from 10,302 in 2008, Lachlan Gunn, European ATM Security Team coordinator, tells PaymentsSource. With card skimming, thieves attach a skimmer to an ATM to capture data on the card’s magnetic stripe and use a camera to capture the PIN entry.

Still, the skimming attempts for both years are considerably higher than the 4,501 total in 2007. The European ATM Security Team, which is based in Scotland, gathers its data from the Link ATM network in the United Kingdom, the Groupement des Cartes Bancaires CB network in France, L’Assoiazlone Bancaria Italiana in Italy and similar network operations in other countries.

Gunn attributes the large increase in skimming attacks between 2007 and 2008 to thieves trying to beat deployment of ATMs throughout Europe that accept smart cards that comply with the EMV antifraud standard. “Ninety-four percent of the ATMs in the reporting countries are EMV-complaint, and by 2011, 100% of the ATMs should be EMV-compliant,” Gunn says. 

Despite the drop in financial losses, overall attempts to commit ATM fraud increased 8% last year, to 13,269 reported incidents from 12,278 in 2008, Gunn says. Card-trapping incidents, in which thieves physically capture the card and PIN at the ATM, increased by 209%, says Gunn, noting such attempts are not as successful as skimming.

“Card skimming involves a multiple number of counterfeit cards thieves may use for months, but card trapping involves one card thieves may use over a weekend before the cardholder’s bank blocks the card,” he says.

Physical attacks to ATMs, including robberies at the machines, declined by 2% last year, to 2,468 incidents from 2,520 the previous year, Gunn says. Despite the drop, overall financial losses from such incidents rose 7.7%, to 28 million euros from 26 million euros.

What do you think about this? Send us your feedback. Click Here.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the payments industry

14-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the industry