Fraud losses at European automated teller machines fell sharply in 2009 as more deployers began installing machines that met the EMV Integrated Circuit Card Specifications, according to data compiled by European ATM Security Team Ltd.

Fraud losses came to $423.8 million, down 35.5% from 2008, the Edinburgh trade group reported last week.

European ATM Security Team compiles incident reports from 23 European countries where there were 368,558 installed ATMs last year.

Skimming attacks declined 1.1% last year, to 10,184 reported incidents, said Lachlan Gunn, the group's coordinator, though that was still up from 4,501 in 2007.

Gunn attributed the increase in skimming between 2007 and 2008 to thieves trying to conduct attacks before EMV-compliant ATMs became more widely used. "Ninety-four percent of the ATMs in the reporting countries are EMV-compliant, and by 2011, 100% of the ATMs should be EMV-compliant," Gunn said.

Despite the drop in losses, overall attempts to commit ATM fraud increased 8% last year, to 13,269 reported incidents, he said. Card-trapping incidents, in which thieves physically capture the card and PIN at the ATM, increased by 209%, though Gunn said this technique is generally not as successful as skimming.

"Card skimming involves a multiple number of counterfeit cards thieves may use for months, but card trapping involves one card thieves may use over a weekend before the cardholder's bank blocks the card," he said.

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