Beware of a new con called “shimming”

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Scammers have typically harvested your payment information with skimmers – a device inserted into ATMs and other payment terminals where you swipe your credit or debit card. The downfall for thieves is EMV cards, the chip located on your debit or credit card, reduce the severity of card skimming due to the manner in which they operate. EMV chips provide a unique code for every transaction — unlike magnetic stripe cards which use your card’s information to process every payment.

However, scammers are now using a new method called “shimming” to steal your personal information. A shim is a paper-thin, card-sized device with an embedded microchip and flash storage that is inserted into the slot where you enter the chip side of your credit or debit card. With a special card, scammers collect your stolen information, such as your PIN and card number and then use your account information to make purchases.

According to, data collected by shimmers cannot be used to create a chip-based card, but it could be used to clone a magnetic stripe card. Although the data that is typically stored on a card’s magnetic stripe is replicated inside the chip on chip-enabled cards, the chip contains an additional security components not found on a magnetic stripe.

So what can you do to protected yourself? BBB offers the following advice to protect yourself from shimming:

Monitor your bank accounts. Regularly check your online bank statements to make sure there are no suspicious charges. If you find one, report it to your bank or credit card company immediately. Use only the customer service number found on the back of your card to be sure you are reaching the real company and not an imposter.

Be wary if your card gets stuck. If your card gets stuck in the reader or the chip reader seems to have a tighter than normal grip on your card, this could be a sign there is a shim inside. Consider canceling your transaction and notify the business where the ATM or payment terminal is located.

Consider contactless payment. Contactless payment methods are not vulnerable to shimming. Use the “tap-and-go” features on your credit card instead of swiping or inserting your card.

If you’ve spotted this type of scam, help warn others by filing a report with BBB Scam Tracker.

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