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Why Card Skimming, Already Bad, Is Getting Worse

Digital Transactions

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Card skimming remains a vexing problem in the United States, with the number of reported incidents increasing 20% during the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to the credit-data firm FICO.

More concerning, however, is that the number of cards compromised as a result of skimming was about 120,000 in the first half of the year, compared to about 70,000 for the same period in 2022, a 77% increase. Equally alarming is that the total number of cards compromised due to skimming during the first half of 2023 represent 75% of all cards compromised in all of last year.

Card skimming occurs when criminals put small card-reading devices in payments terminals, such as at the point of sale or in an ATM, to steal card information.

“This growth in total cards compromised, despite a smaller increase in compromise events, indicates that criminals are stealing more card details per compromise event,” Debbie Cobb, senior director, product management for FICO says in a blog post released Monday. “FICO’s data supports this trend, which shows a 48% increase in the average number of cards impacted per compromise in the first half of 2023.”

Bank ATMs are a more favored target for skimmers, with the number of incidents taking place at those machines increasing 109% year-over-year during the first half of 2023. The increase represents a significant shift in the terminal types and locations of card compromises, according to Cobb.

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