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Shimming (Not Skimming) - The Latest Credit Card Scam

August 22, 2018

Shimming (Not Skimming) - The Latest Credit Card Scam

If you are aware of the various ways in which scammers can steal your credit card info, you would already know that skimming is one of these methods. With skimming, criminals attach a device to credit card readers at places like ATMs and gas stations. When you swipe your credit card at these locations, the device harvests your payment information from the magnetic strip. Scammers then use this info to clone your card, or they may even sell these details on the dark web.

One of the ways in which credit card companies tried to protect cardholders from being skimmed was by introducing chip-enabled cards. Unfortunately, fraudsters have found a way to lift information from these cards as well, through a process called shimming.

How does shimming work?

In this case, scammers insert a shim, or a paper-thin, card-sized device (with an embedded microchip and flash storage) into the slot where the chip side of a credit or debit card is entered. This device copies and saves your information when you swipe your card. These stolen details can’t be used to clone another chip card; however, they can be used to create a version of the card featuring a magnetic strip. And, unfortunately, plenty of retailers still accept such cards.

Shimming devices are small and unobtrusive (unlike skimming devices, which are usually bulky). As a result, shimming is more difficult to detect than skimming. What’s even worse is that scammers can collect stolen information from shimming devices by inserting a special card into the reader. This makes it seem that the criminal is simply paying for something or using the ATM.

How can you protect yourself from shimming?

There are certain measures you can take to save yourself from being defrauded this way.

  • Take advantage of the contactless tap-and-go feature on your credit or debit cards, if available, or contactless mobile services such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. These methods do not require you to swipe your card or enter it into a reader, saving you from being shimmed.
  • If your card gets stuck in a reader or if it seems to have a tighter than normal grip on your card, you may want to stop your transaction immediately and alert the store as well as your bank.
  • Don’t proceed with the transaction if your card encounters resistance while being inserted into a reader.
  • Use ATMs at a bank, as they are less susceptible than standalone ATMs. Or, better still, approach a teller for cash transactions. In case you are using an ATM, make sure you cover the keypad to prevent hidden cameras from recording your keystrokes.
  • Scrutinize your credit card statements to spot suspicious transactions. Report them immediately to your bank or credit card issuer. It is also advisable to check your credit report at regular intervals and be on the lookout for new inquiries, high balances, or new accounts that you don’t recognize.

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Ari Page Ari Page is the CEO of Fund&Grow. He resides in Spring Hill, Florida with his wife and two children.

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