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This paper examines the use of nonsystematic channel codes to obtain secure transmissions over the additive white Gaussian noise wire-tap channel. Unlike the previous approaches, we propose to implement nonsystematic coded transmission by scrambling the information bits, and characterize the bit error rate of scrambled transmissions through theoretical arguments and numerical simulations. We have focused on some examples of Bose-Chaudhuri-Hocquenghem and low-density parity-check codes to estimate the security gap, which we have used as a measure of physical layer security, in addition to the bit error rate. Based on a number of numerical examples, we found that such a transmission technique can outperform alternative solutions. In fact, when an eavesdropper (Eve) has a worse channel than the authorized user (Bob), the security gap required to reach a given level of security is very small. The amount of degradation of Eve's channel with respect to Bob's that is needed to achieve sufficient security can be further reduced by implementing scrambling and descrambling operations on blocks of frames, rather than on single frames. While Eve's channel has a quality equal to or better than that of Bob's channel, we have shown that the use of a hybrid automatic repeat-request protocol with authentication still allows achieving a sufficient level of security. Finally, the secrecy performance of some practical schemes has also been measured in terms of the equivocation rate about the message at the eavesdropper and compared with that of ideal codes.