The Latest on ATM Hacking: Huge Sums Being Extracted from ATMs

Apr 14, 2014

The next time you go to use your debit card you might want to think twice. Regulators are currently worrying over the new wave of cybercriminals.  In an article by E. Scott Reckard in the Los Angeles Times, Reckard writes that “regulators are warning bankers that hackers have succeeded in changing the controls on automated teller machines to enable thieves to make nearly unlimited withdrawals using fraudulent debit, prepaid, and ATM cards.”

The scheme for the hackers has so far been to schedule these withdrawals around the holidays and weekends. During these times, ATMs are loaded with extra cash in order to handle the expected additional withdrawals. In addition, hackers are aware that monitoring of the banks lessens at these points allowing more time for them to carry out their schemes.

According to the article “ATM hackers stole $45M in ‘21st-century bank heist,’ fed say” by Fox News, “The first federal study of ATM fraud was 30 years ago when the use of computers in the financial community was growing rapidly. At the time, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found nationwide ATM bank loss from fraud ranged from $70 and $100 million a year.”

In the recent ATM hacking of $45 million, a worldwide gang hacked their way into a database of prepaid debit cards. The issue with prepaid cards is that not all of them come with deposit insurance. It would seem that the hackers, upon breaching bank databases, eliminated withdrawal limits on pre-aid debit cards while also creating access codes for them. According to Fox News, “There were two separate attacks, one in December that reaped $5 million worldwide and one in February that snared about $40 million in 10 hours with about 36,000 transactions.” The plundered ATMs are located in a vast number of countries: Romania, Egypt, Britain, Japan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Canada, etc.

In another recent hacking, Target and its customers were subject to major losses – 110 million customers to be exact. According to Target, the customers affected by this were passed as well as current customers. As already stated, hackers often choose holidays and weekends to schedule their schemes; the unfortunate Target incident happened in the weeks following Thanksgiving 2013. In the article “Target: Hacking hit up to 110 million customers” by CNN Money, it was reported that “Experts suggest that customers who used debit or credit cards at Target between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 should contact their card issuer and get a new card with a new account number.”

According to experts, it is the small and medium-sized banks that are the most vulnerable. It is wise to reconsider using your debit or ATM cards; it might be better to use a credit card since they are better protected. Even though bank customers are protected by federal deposit insurance, it can still be a major inconvenience if your data is stolen and your accounts drained.


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Having a merchant account allows an account holder to take advantage of merchant cash advances. When a merchant is approved for an advance, the business agrees to receive a lump sum of cash in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of future credit card sales.

Pricing varies depending on the merchant’s industry, past credit card processing history, the type of business seeking the account, average ticket sales, and average transaction volumes.

Yes, EMB works with merchants who are building their credit, as well as those who have poor credit. EMB also approves merchants that have no credit card processing history and businesses that have lost their merchant accounts due to high chargebacks.

Several factors influence a merchant’s risk level. Though only one factor likely will not get a merchant classified as high risk, a combination of these may: business size, location, and industry, credit score, credit card processing history, a industry’s reputation for excessive chargebacks, a prior history of high chargeback ratios, and whether a merchant exclusively sells online.

Virtual terminals are stationed on a merchant’s website, making it easy for customers to make a payment or purchase online. Merchants or a payment processor can easily set up virtual terminals, so online businesses can accept credit and debit card and e-check transactions.

A merchant account is a business account with an acquiring bank. Without this business account, which actually works more like a line of credit, a merchant cannot accept and process credit and debit card transactions. Businesses need a merchant account to accept major credit cards via a static point-of-sale terminal, mobile card reader, or through a virtual payment gateway.

After filling out EMB’s simple online application and submitting any necessary, requested documents, many merchants get approved within 24 and 48 hours.

EMB specializes in working with high-risk merchants. EMB works with many merchants, including but not limited to businesses in these industries: gambling and gaming, adult entertainment, nutraceuticals, vaping and e-cigarettes, electronics, tech support, travel, high-end furniture, weight loss programs, calling cards, e-books and software, and telecommunications.

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