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Electronic Fund Transfer Systems Fraud: Computer Crime

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 1986

This 1982-1983 study assessed the nature and extent of automatic teller (ATM) and electronic fund transfer (EFT) fraud in a panel survey of 16 Association of Reserve City banks.


Of 4,187 ATM incidents supplied by banks, 42 percent were potentially fraudulent, involving use of lost or stolen credit cards, overdrafts, or bad deposits. Credit card fraud was the leading cause of ATM losses. While most losses were small (about $200 per incident), some scam-related incidents accounted for substantial losses. The annual nationwide bank loss due to ATM fraud is estimated between $70 and $100 million, but these losses are significantly lower than credit card fraud losses. A total of 207 EFT incidents over a 6-year period generally involved errors either leading to fraudulent absconding with funds or exposure without loss of principal. While EFT fraud is rare and more difficult to document, the potential loss per incident is much higher, averaging $942,450. In the case of both ATM and EFT fraud, more effective utilization of computer technology could reduce losses. 42 figures and 44 references.

Date Published: March 1, 1986