First there was skimming and now we have shimmers – a BBB warning

press release from BBB

So, most of us know what credit card skimming is by now. But have you heard of credit card shimmers?

Shimmers are a paper-thin, card-size shim containing an embedded microchip and flash storage is inserted into the “dip and wait” card slot of an ATM or gas pump payment terminal that’s indoors or outdoors. There it resides unseen to intercept data off your credit or debit card’s EMV chip for fraudsters. The intercepted data is used to create a magnetic stripe version of the card that can be used in payment terminals that haven’t been updated with EMV chip technology.

Much like skimmers, shimmers are able to gather information from the chip on the card but the main concern is how hard they are to detect.

Credit card skimmers are often bulky and wobbly, making them easier to spot as they capture information from the magnetic strip on the back of the card. A shimmer, named for its slim size, fits inside a card reader and can be quickly installed by a criminal who is pretending to make a purchase or withdrawal. Once installed, microchips on the device record information from chip cards, including the PIN. Thieves are able to retrieve the information by inserting a special card that downloads the information.

BBB suggests that you always keep a close eye on your credit card statements and debit accounts and immediately report any suspicious activity. It’s also been noted that shimmers will sometimes cause inserted cards to become stuck. If something seems peculiar during a transaction or bank withdrawal, please make the store or bank aware.

How to protect yourself from shimmers

  1. Use the contactless tap-and-go feature on your credit or debit card instead of swiping or inserting your card.
  2. Use contactless mobile services such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay to tap and pay.
  3. If you’re withdrawing cash at a bank, go inside to a teller.
  4. Use ATMs in banks rather than more vulnerable standalones.
  5. Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN.
  6. Don’t proceed with a transaction if your card encounters resistance when it is inserted.
  7. Contact the bank, merchant and your card issuer is you suspect your card has been compromised.

For more information please visit or call 404-766-0875.

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