ATM Debit Card Theft Spikes to 20-Year High

Customers beware when using debit cards to take out money at your local ATM or around the United States for that matter.

According to FICO (a credit-scoring and analytics company), from January to April 9, 2015, the number of attacks on debit cards used at ATMs reached the highest level for that period in at least 20 years. "We have periodically seen spikes in fraud but not at this level," said FICO's John Buzzard on FOX Business Network.

Apparently, the stolen data is used to produce counterfeit cards, among other things, and will eventually become a serious issue for whoever’s information has been compromised.

Buzzard added that debit-card compromises at ATMs located on bank property were "pretty significant" jumping 174% from Jan. 1 to April 9, compared with the same period last year,  while successful attacks at nonbank machines soared by 317%.

What efforts are being put forth to combat or lessen these attacks?

“ATM manufacturers and their partners on the security side have designed a number of physical safeguards to prevent the placement of skimming devices or defeat the technology they use to collect card data,” says Suzanne Cluckey, Editor at ATM Marketplace.

“Last year, Diebold (NYSE:DBD) even introduced a card reader that turns the card sideways, so that you insert your ATM card long-edge first, making data collection impossible with any known skimming device,”notes Cluckey.

However, pricing often comes into play when issues arise which isn't a good thing for the consumer in the end.

“Unfortunately, anti-skimming devices and anti-skimming software can both be expensive to deploy,” says Cluckey, so many ATM operators end up playing the odds and hoping they'll be lucky enough never to get hit.

So, what can the everyday consumer really do to further protect themselves?

In the end, “the best protection against skimming is literally in the hands of the ATM user, says Cluckey. “By covering the keypad with one hand while you enter your personal identification number, you can make sure that no one collects that piece of information; without it, the card data is of no use in an ATM fraud scam.”

ATM manufacturers NCR Corp. (NYSE:NCR) and  Cardtronics (NASDAQ:CATM) were contacted, but no calls were returned.