Fraud & Security U.S. ATM Fraud Climbed 10% in 2017 — Is That Good?

Person using ATM machine

As FICO reported today, there was a 10% increase in the number of payment cards compromised at U.S. ATMs and merchants in 2017. The number of compromised card readers at U.S. ATMs, restaurants and merchants rose 8%.

On the face of it, there’s nothing to celebrate in this ATM fraud data from our FICO® Card Alert Service, which monitors hundreds of thousands of ATMs and other readers in the US. In fact, it’s a new record, and not the kind you want to set.

But the growth curve in ATM fraud is flattening out. In 2015, the number of compromises jumped more than 500%. In 2016, that growth was 70%. Compared to these numbers, the 10% rise suggests we’re getting the problem under control, despite hacking devices being made cheaper and more readily available.

We’re also getting better at managing compromises when they do occur, thanks to tools like FICO® Card Compromise Manager, which proactively detects and prioritizes compromised merchants and data breaches, automatically alerting fraud teams of all payment cards that are part of a compromise. This is really a handy tool to have to proactively protect your customers’ accounts before fraud occurs.

Protecting Customers from ATM Fraud

Our tips for consumers haven’t changed, but they’re worth repeating:

  • If an ATM looks odd, or your card doesn’t enter the machine smoothly, consider going somewhere else for your cash.
  • Never approach an ATM if anyone is lingering nearby. Never engage in conversations with others around an ATM. Remain in your automobile until other ATM users have left the ATM.
  • If your plastic card is captured inside of an ATM, call your card issuer immediately to report it. Sometimes you may think that your card was captured by the ATM when in reality it was later retrieved by a criminal who staged its capture. Either way, you will need to arrange for a replacement card as soon as possible.
  • Ask your card issuer for a new card number if you suspect that your payment card may have been compromised at a merchant, restaurant or ATM. It’s important to change both your card number and your PIN whenever you experience a potential theft of your personal information.
  • Check your card transactions frequently, using online banking and your monthly statement.
  • Ask your card provider if they offer account alert technology that will deliver SMS text communications or emails to you in the event that fraudulent activity is suspected on your payment card.
  • Update your address and cell phone information for every card you have, so that you can be reached if there is ever a critical situation that requires your immediate attention.

I should note that most devices are safe, and it’s a small fraction of them that are compromised. But it pays to be cautious, because it’s getting harder to tell which ones are — gone are the days when you could just eyeball a device and tell if it was corrupted.

Follow me on Twitter @FraudBird.


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