While sounding like accessories that fashionable 20-somethings might use to bling out their plastic, credit card “shimmers” are actually new identity theft tools. Experts report that these tiny, illegal devices have been found throughout the valley, and they may be coming soon to a gas station near you.
How Skimmers and Shimmers are Different
You may be familiar with the credit card “skimmer,” a device that a thief installs on an ATM or gas station card reader in order to steal your information. Normally, a skimmer is imbedded into a fake version of part of the device it’s attached to, such as the card reader.
Shimmers follow the same concept, but they’re much smaller and specifically designed to grab and store info from chipped credit and debit cards. That’s right – those high-tech cards that are supposed to be impenetrable to crooks. And because shimmers are so thin, they’re usually placed inside of a card reader. This makes them really hard to detect.
In order to collect data from a shimmer, a thief inserts a special card into the compromised card reader, and the swiped info transfers from one microchip to another. It’s an easy process, and the fraudster will just look like any other person using an ATM or paying at the pump.
While well-placed skimmers are often hard to detect, are nearly impossible to spot. In fact, it’s called a shimmer because when it’s positioned, it acts like a shim between the chip on the card and the chip reader in the ATM or point-of-sale device. It’s completely internal, so even if you’re hyper-observant, you probably won’t be aware of the threat until it’s too late.
How to Keep Your Credit and Bank Cards Safe from Shimmers
So, what should Arizonians do to protect themselves against shimming?
If you live in an area where shimmers have been found, experts suggest that you start paying for gas with cash inside of the store. And where do you get this cash? To be safe, it’s better to use an ATM located within a bank instead of a freestanding machine. This is because thieves have fewer opportunities to tamper with ATMs that are being watched by tellers, security guards and other bank patrons. It’s also a good idea to routinely check your bank and credit card activity online. And any suspicious charge should be reported immediately.
Regularly checking your credit reports is another good habit to practice. By monitoring your credit, you’ll be able to see if your identity has been used to open fraudulent accounts. Victims of identity theft are often left with both financial losses and credit damage. But taking quick action can help to minimize the long-term effects.
If your credit has been harmed by illegal actions committed in your name, there’s an easy way to reclaim your good standing. At Credit Lawyers of America, we’ve been helping consumers since 2008, and we would be happy to quickly and legally repair your credit next.
You can set up your free consultation today by calling Attorney Gary Nitzkin at (888)293-2882 or emailing him at [email protected]