Friday, January 27, 2012

Top Skimming Trends to watch in 2012

2012: Year of the Skimmer

Fraud losses linked to card skimming are quickly hitting epidemic proportions. So what are the top card-skimming trends financial institutions and financial-services providers should be on the lookout for in 2012? Industry experts weigh in to offer their domestic and global perspectives.

The top six trends to watch:
  • ATM attacks;
  • Network hacks;
  • Crime rings aiming for retail;
  • Skimming at self-service points of sale;
  • International fraud migration; and
  • EMV in the U.S.
ATMs: The No. 1 Target

In 2011, debit fraud losses for the first time outpaced losses associated with credit fraud. The reason for tipping of the fraud-loss scales: skimming.

ATM Skimming

ADT Security Solutions in early 2010 estimated financial losses per ATM-skimming incident averaged $30,000. Now, as the average loss to ATM skimming has jumped $20,000, it's clear card fraud and skimming are increasing. And the industry can expect more fraud losses in 2012 as global crime rings enhance their networks and improve their techniques to exploit lingering magnetic-stripe technology.

ATMs are typically the last to be upgraded from a hardware perspective.

More Network Hacks

Institutions and retailers need to focus more attention on locking down their networks. Now that more networks and systems are connected, as institutions and businesses work to achieve enterprise-level data management, they increase their risk of exposure. If a system is compromised, fraudsters can easily access every server, POS device, ATM, PC and network that's connected to that system.

The widespread deployment and use of common and well-known operating systems, such as Windows, compounds the problem. Fraudsters know how to get in, and with evolving malware, it's getting easier for them to wage successful attacks.

Advances in wireless communications also will reap greater skimming crime rewards in 2012. Network security holes aside, skimming schemes themselves will become easier, as wireless communications and Bluetooth technology have made it increasingly easier for fraudsters to remotely transmit card data once it's been skimmed.

Crime Rings Aim for Retail

Pointing to 2011's skimming breaches at Michaels and Save Mart/Lucky Supermarkets, open communication between retailers and card issuers kept fraud losses and card compromises in check. Once the fraud starts to occur, it just makes everyone's job easier when the retailers take a transparent and proactive approach.

Those attacks have illustrated how critical the need for retailers to invest in real-time fraud monitoring is. The incidents also prove retailers have an incentive to move toward the Europay, MasterCard, Visa standard. At least 50 percent of the card-present fraud is charged back to the merchants. They are now motivated to make a move to EMV because they won't see those chargeback charges. And there is more authentication with the chip, so that will help fraud as well.

A Security Soft Spot

As the Lucky's breach and countless others that target self-service payments devices, including pay-the-pump gas terminals, prove, any terminal that accepts credit and debit cards will be targeted by fraudsters. Even ATM vestibule doors, which read debit swipes for entry, are compromised with ease.

But despite the fact that EMV and anti-skimming measures have displaced ATM attacks in those markets, ATM fraud continues. During the last six months of 2011, Europe saw upticks in low-tech ATM-fraud schemes, such as cash-trapping. Cash trapping, like it sounds, prevents bills from being dispensed. European ATM deployers are addressing the trend with physical ATM inspections and investments in enhanced tampering-detection technology.

Geo-Blocking and International Backlash

Despite innovative moves to curb card fraud in Europe, skimming remains a global problem. Even as fraud migrates and different global regions progress in their adoption of EMV, losses associated with skimming continue to escalate.

This year, more fraud migration and increasing losses, especially in the United States. Part of that migration will be spurred by steps European countries are taking to shut off mag-stripe acceptance as a way to reduce financial losses associated with skimming.

Migrating Fraud

The United States can expect skimming to increase. Why? Fraud will migrate from other parts of the world, where card security is more sophisticated.

Compliance with EMV in western Europe and parts of central and eastern Europe over the last five to 10 years initiated the migration of fraud. Now that EMV is the standard in neighboring Mexico and Canada, hits to U.S. card issuers and acquirers will be substantially higher. Card fraud linked to skimming will be the catalyst.

EMV in the U.S

Movement toward EMV compliance, to address growing card fraud, is not far off for the United States. Visa and MasterCard have both issued soft dates for a U.S. movement toward EMV. MasterCard set an April 2013 deadline for all U.S. ATMs to be EMV compliant; and Visa announced compliance dates of 2013 and 2015 for U.S. merchants.

Last week, Visa provided EMV guidance and suggested EMV adoption best practices for U.S. merchants and card issuers.

In 2013, the responsibility for fraud losses will shift from the EMV card issuer to the acquirer. Given that stipulation, 2012 will see an increase in EMV activity.

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