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ATM theft on the rise in Switzerland

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ATM theft on the rise in Switzerland
14:49 CET+01:00

Fraudsters have stolen more than 9.2 million francs through doctored ATMs since January, Swiss federal authorities have said. 

In the first three quarters of the year, 225 ATM machines were manipulated by criminals in Switzerland, a significant rise on the 135 cases recorded in all of 2010.

Using special equipment, swindlers copy the magnetic strips on credit and debit cards, using the data contained in the strips to create ”cloned” cards.

Even though the number of manipulated ATM machines has increased — and thieves have managed to steal more than 9 million francs ($10.2 million) in ten months — the number of skimming cases has gone down slightly, from two to three cases a week last year, to two in 2011.

The skimming data was provided by Alain Bichsel, spokesman for SIX Card Solutions, a company that specialises in bank transfers.

Bichsel says both customers and banks are increasingly aware of skimming, and that new systems of credit card protection have helped reduce the number of cases.

Checks have been strengthened and processes to block compromised cards have improved. As Bichsel told news agency ATS, credit cards are immediately cancelled when the system identifies that they have been used in Switzerland and in another country within a short period of time. The same happens when cards have been used in manipulated ATMs.

In addition, banks will soon have a new weapon in the fight against this kind of scam. SIX Card Solutions has developed a tool that allows bank customers to block their cards in some countries like the United States, the Dominican Republic, Russia and Ukraine. Cloned cards are mainly used in these countries because ATMs there continue to read data from the magnetic strip on the card’s rear rather than from the embedded chip, as is done in Switzerland.

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