The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 27, 2009 • Issue 09:04:02
A new skimming antidote
Crimes involving trucks and forklifts that ripped ATM machines from their moorings generated significant publicity in 2008. But a more discreet kind of theft - known as "skimming" - is now a much greater source of worry in the financial services sector.
Skimming involves using a card reader, and sometimes a video camera, to lift information from a bankcard. Skimmers attach a small plate to the outside of an ATM card slot that grabs data from an inserted card and typically sends the stolen information by wireless signal to a laptop nearby. (The plate appears to be just part of the slot.)
When PIN numbers aren't readable from the strip, thieves sometimes obtain codes and PIN numbers separately by using a video camera or simply standing behind customers as they punch in their codes.
Designed to thwart
ADT developed the Anti-Skim ATM Security Solution to guard against skimming. The device, which is already in wide use across Europe, will hit the U.S. market in April 2009.
"We're just in the process now of rolling it out in North America," said Hank Monaco, Vice President, ADT Security Services. He added that while the product is currently only used by banks, "we see applications as well for offsite ATMs," such as those inside convenience stores.
The Anti-Skim is a small electronic device that's installed inside an ATM machine. It guards against skimming in three ways:
- It detects the presence of alien devices attached to ATM machines.
- It thwarts skimming devices by jamming their signals.
- It hooks up to separate surveillance systems, notifying security teams whenever tampering occurs, or, in the absence of real-time monitoring, keeps records of time frames in which skimming objects are present.
The Anti-Skim device mounted inside the ATM machine sends out a signal that will jam the skim device signal, Monaco said. "It will not allow it to occur," he noted.
Skimming devices proliferate
Monaco said skimming nets criminals $350,000 a day in the United States alone, and that as much as $8 billion has been lost worldwide to the practice. By the time security guards or other personnel notice ATM machines have been tampered with, the damage has usually already been done, he added.
"It's continuing to mushroom because of the down economy, with people becoming more desperate," said Bob Tucker, Director, Public Relations, ADT Security Services.
Monaco said skimming devices were "fairly widespread" and easy to obtain.
One can be attached to an ATM in as little as five minutes, he said. But ADT's device alerts security personnel to the presence of a skimmer immediately, he added.
"Think about this: A criminal who drives to a bank, actually comes to a bank in the wee hours and places their skimming device and maybe a hidden camera somewhere - both wireless," he said.
"You're in and you're out, and then you sit in your car with your laptop and wait for unsuspecting folks to come and use the machine, and a couple hours later you remove your device and move on to another ATM machine. That's often how it's perpetrated."
ADT Security Services Inc.
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