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ADT Develops Mini EMP Fight Bank Card Skimming

02/17/2012 -Financial fraud rings often useskimmers, realistic looking card readers placed over factory card readers, at ATMs or gas stations, to steal payment card information. Because skimmers are virtually undetectable by users, in a few hours, criminals can steal data from hundreds of cards. The card data is written onto blank payment cards and then used to withdraw money or make purchases later. The averageskimming attack nets $50,000 in losses, according to the Secret Service, which handles a large portion of skimming investigations. 

With this in mind, ADT Business Solutions created a new technology that uses electromagnetic technology to both detect and prevent skimming devices on ATM machines. When installed on an ATM, the device can block skimming devices from being able to download payment card data and an alarm feature alerts the bank of the presence of a skimmer.

“Electromagnetic pulses disrupt the operation of a foreign card reader, rendering it useless from allowing that device to capture card holder’s bank card data,” said John Pearce, director of marketing with ADT Business Solutions. 

"By placing the device in close proximity to the ATMs' factory card reader, it can block the operation of another card reader placed nearby without affecting the ATM. “It’s able to be calibrated to note that distinction,” Pearce said.

The kit, which would run a bank around $2,000 per ATM, and integrates with the bank’s alarm panel for specialized alert when someone attempts to install a skimmer on the machine and can be synced with a facility’s surveillance system. Complete installation and testing of the system would take about an hour and a half, Pearce said.

“When you consider that the average skimming crime, according to the U.S. Secret service, exceeds $50,000 per attack, per ATM, it’s an investment that’s very, very cost effective,” he said.

ADT says around 150 of the kits have been deployed so far. Calls to several banks about the kits were not immediately returned.