Once again, less data theft from ATMs |  Free press

Once again, less data theft from ATMs | Free press

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Once again, less data theft from ATMs |  Free press

Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – “Skimming” model is being phased out: The theft of data from ATMs in Germany has continued to decrease in the current year at a low level.

The gross damage caused by spying on card data and PINs fell in the first half of 2021 to a record low of 293,000 euros, as the Frankfurt facility Euro Kartensysteme announced on request. In the first six months of the previous year it was more than twice as much at 668,000 euros.

From January to June 2021 inclusive, criminals manipulated ATMs nationwide 63 times in order to get data from bank customers, according to Euro Kartensysteme. A year earlier, there had been 81 such “skimming” cases. Individual machines could have been attacked several times.

The English term “skimming” means “to skim off” or “to cream off”. In order to illegally obtain data from bank cards, criminals manipulate the slot on the ATM, for example – or they try to access the data via fake door openers. Sometimes the entry of the PIN is also filmed with mini cameras or saved using a fake keyboard attachment.

Most of the cases were in Bavaria

In the first half of 2021, criminals struck in five federal states in such ways. By far the largest number of cases were counted in Bavaria (41). There were also “skimming” attacks on ATMs in Lower Saxony (12), Hesse (5), North Rhine-Westphalia (4) and Brandenburg (1). With regard to the significantly increased number of cases in Bavaria, Euro card systems said that groups of offenders who concentrated on one region were mostly at work.

Abroad, according to the information, no German debit cards were affected by “skimming” attacks for the first time in the period from January to June. “This is certainly also due to the Corona period, when there were few trips abroad,” explained Euro Card Systems.

“Skimming is an absolutely obsolete model, it is simply no longer worth it for the perpetrators,” said Margit Schneider from Euro Kartensysteme. “I assume that we will only have a few cases next year.”

In 2020 as a whole, Euro Card Systems counted 152 manipulations at ATMs nationwide, the “skimming” damage totaled around 1.06 million euros. For comparison: In 2013 it was 11.3 million euros, in 2012 and 2011 even 34 million euros each.

EMC technology brings security

The financial sector attributes the decline that has been observed for years primarily to investments in so-called EMV technology: Payment cards are equipped with a kind of mini-computer, the card is checked for authenticity every time it is used.

Germany has relied on EMC technology for years. There are also only a few countries in the world where payment cards are still equipped with relatively easy-to-copy magnetic strips and retail readers are designed for magnetic strips. There, criminals can use forged cards for shopping based on data stolen in Germany. In the first half of 2021, duplicate cards based on data stolen in Germany were used primarily in the USA (77 percent share of damage) and India (12 percent).

Thanks to international agreements, the local banking industry can now recover almost the entire amount of the damage. Because for damage from fraudulent transactions with stolen card data, the countries with the lowest security standards have to pay.

Damage is usually replaced

Consumers in Germany who have become victims of “skimming” do not normally have to fear any financial disadvantage. As a rule, financial institutions compensate for such damage – provided that the customers have handled their bank card and PIN carefully.

Much greater damage has occurred in Germany for years as a result of theft and loss of payment cards. Euro card systems registered an increase to 5415 cases in the first half of the year (previous year: 4232). The gross damage caused by the loss and theft of cards rose by almost 20 percent to a good 7.5 million euros. Many consumers make it easy for criminals because, despite all warnings, they keep their card and PIN together in their wallets.

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