Have you been 'skimmed'? - credit card fraud explained

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By Anne Devineaux
Have you been 'skimmed'? - credit card fraud explained

Albina, from Geneva, asks what ‘skimming’ is and how she can protect herself from it.

Laurence Binther, of Europol’s European Cybercrime centre, explains that ‘skimming’ is the theft of data from a credit card’s magnetic strip.

Binther continues: “Fraudsters use special electronic devices – placed on payment terminals, ATMs and automated fuel dispensers – to capture the data cards’ magnetic strips, which is then easily falsifiable.

“Since the introduction of Chip and PIN in Europe in 2010 banking transactions in the EU have been authorised via the Chip instead of the magnetic strip.

“The main problem for banks and European consumers, is what is called the migration of fraud. That is when the data contained on the magnetic strip is used by criminals in regions where Chip and PIN is not yet in place – for example in the US, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

“Criminals then use European banking data to create counterfeit cards, or clones, that they use for fraudulent withdrawals or purchases outside the European Union.

“Until Chip and PIN technology is in place globally, some European banks have opted for a so-called ‘geo-blocking’ solution. This limits the use of their credit cards and means transactions outside the EU can only be validated at the express request of the card holder.”

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