In 2014, 5.631 skimming attacks were reported in Europe. It represents a loss that exceed 275 Million EUR. But the US is the most affected by this criminal technique. Indeed, the US doesn’t use the EMV standard. With these figures, it’s easy to appreciate the threat of skimming on our life.

Article 9 - Skimming, image 1 - Lienhardt Jean-Laurent

What is skimming?
Skimming is a technique that allows someone to copy personal data from magnetics stripes on an ATM card. The European ATM Security Team (EAST) defines Card skimming as:
“The card details and PIN are captured at the ATM and used to produce counterfeit cards for subsequent fraudulent cash withdrawals. The customer sees a normal transaction and retains the card. Multiple cards are compromised in one attack at one ATM.”
To be effective, skimming on an ATM needs two major things:

  • A scan of the card magnetic strip,
  • The card PIN code.

Concerning online transaction, skimming exists too. This kind of it needs others data:

  • Card type (Visa, Mastercard,…),
  • Card owner name,
  • Card validation period,
  • Card Number (XXXX XXXX XXXX XXXX),
  • Card CSV code (on the card back).

Without one of these data, criminals cannot use or sell card information they have collected. So protect your data and check the ATM before using it.
Article 9 - Skimming, image 2 - Lienhardt Jean-Laurent
How to protect yourself against skimming?
Even if the zero risk doesn’t exist, you can do some check that would help you to protect your data from criminals. Concerning ATM, follow these simple advices before using it:

  • Look around before your approach, if you see some suspicious don’t use this ATM
  • Prefer the ATM you’re familiar with, so you can easily check if something goes wrong with it
  • Look over the machine before inserting your card, if you see something weird on it (Card reader entry slot, Pinpad, Illumination lighting area, ATM Fascia side, …), look for another ATM
  • Always secure your PIN code, use your hand to shield your PIN when entering it
  • Prefer ATMs that are well lit and safe

Concerning online skimming, there’s some things you must check before using your card on web sites:

  • Check web sites SSL protection
  • Ask your bank office, if they’ve got some specific web payment procedures (call checking, PIN code checking, …)
  • Don’t use your credit card on weird website, some criminals use false web sites to steal data

Article 9 - Skimming, image 1 - Lienhardt Jean-Laurent

Jean-Laurent Lienhardt

Etudiant du Master 2 Droit de l’économie numérique de l’Université de Strasbourg. Autoentrepreneur dans les domaines de la comptabilité et du business consulting. Impliqué dans la recherche concernant le « Crowdfunding », je tâche d’appréhender les impacts sociaux, légaux et économiques de l’usage des nouvelles technologiques…

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