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Truity Credit Union Blog > October 2021 > Beware of Skimmers and Shimmers

Beware of Skimmers and Shimmers

  • 10/15/2021

Do you feel safe when swiping your card to pay for gas? Do you know what to look for to make sure your card information is secure?

We’ve all heard about those hidden devices that criminals install at gas stations and other outdoor accessible transaction terminals, including ATMs. When found, these criminals typically have cash, devices and hundreds of fake cards manufactured from the data they stole. Protect your financial security and peace of mind by learning more about these devices and how to identify them before you swipe.

Skimmers vs Shimmers

Skimmers are typically devices that are attached on top of the card reader of ATM machines, gas pumps, or outdoor drive-in fast-food point of sale terminals and vending machines and are sometimes indistinguishable from the real thing. For ATMs, a hidden camera near the machine also captures keystrokes to identify the user's PIN. Instead of a camera, a more recent criminal innovation is the use of a touch-sensitive keypad overlay that may look like the keys themselves or a simple weatherproof covering.

Shimmers were born because of more sophisticated card security technology. When most cards in the United States changed from magnetic stripe to EMV chip (Europay, MasterCard® and Visa®) criminals were challenged with a much higher level of security. However, fraudsters found that by carefully positioning, or shimming, an ultra-thin electronic component inside the card reader it would allow their device to record the information from the EMV chip on the card.

How to Detect One

Follow these steps to detect when a card terminal may be at risk, and if you see something, say something!

1. Outdoor point of sale terminals, such as gas pumps, drive-in fast-food purchase, vending machines, and ATMs are particularly vulnerable. One thing you can count on is that these devices are built to be sturdy. Before inserting your card, give the reader a tug. If there are any ill-fitting parts on the machine, don't insert your card. Report the terminal to the business owner immediately.

2. When you are at the gas pump or at the drive-in restaurant, look around at the other card readers. Fraudsters will often only have one or two skimmers that they will use at one time. If the card reader you are about to use looks different than the rest, consider using cash or paying with your card inside the business instead.

3. Gas stations and other businesses will use a security seal over the opening of the cabinet panel to show that the machine has not been tampered with since the last inspection. If the machine's panel has been opened, the label will read "void". If you see a machine with a voided security seal, or the panel is bent, loose, or open, report it to the business owner.

4. When using a vulnerable ATM, especially one that is located away from a bank building, consider the risk. If you can avoid using these machines you should.

5. Since skimmers and shimmers can be very hard to detect, the best defense is to check your account balance regularly to spot suspicious card transactions. If you think your card with Truity Credit Union has been compromised, give us a call at 800.897.6991 and we would be happy to help resolve any issues.

Working together to create more secure interactions is critical. We’ll continue to improve card security while you remain vigilant in protecting your personal information.

Keep in mind, if you suspect identity theft at any time, you have access to an Identity Theft Recovery Advocate as a no-cost benefit of your Preferred or Advantage Checking account. If you suspect identity theft has occurred, a professional is standing by to help you identify and reverse the damage to get your life back on track quickly. We have you covered.

Routing Number: 303184652


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