Scam alert for 2019: ‘Shimming’ is the new skimming

'Shimming' is similar to 'skimming,' and will become more popular for thieves in 2019, an FBI...
'Shimming' is similar to 'skimming,' and will become more popular for thieves in 2019, an FBI official says.(Source: NBC12)
Updated: Jan. 1, 2019 at 9:50 PM CST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In the new year, there’s a new worry about the way thieves are getting their hands on other people’s money.

This method is similar to card skimmers, but a new technique targets the chip in your card that’s supposed to help prevent identity theft.

Immune from skimming, a common scam in which thieves attach a device to credit card readers at places like gas stations or like this grocery store, a device reads and copies information from the magnetic stripe, allowing scammers to clone your card for later use or to sell on the dark web.

It’s known as “shimming.”

“Unfortunately I think it’s just the cost of doing business, meaning living in the digital era,” said Supervisory Special Agent Mark Knoll with the Richmond FBI.

In an interview in late 2018, Knoll said shimming is the new trick that will become known in 2019.

“It’s the same thing as skimming, but it’s to get the information off the chip card," he said.

Scammers put what’s called a “shim” into the slot where you stick your card. The “shim” is a paper-thin, card-sized device that’s embedded with a microchip. If you put your card into a reader that has a “shim” inside of it, the device will copy and save your information, including your PIN and card number.

“The consumer just goes up to the gas pump or to the ATM and they insert their card. Their PIN is captured and their account number is captured and that’s where the fraud begins," warned Angela Guth of the Better Business Bureau.

It’s hard to detect, which is why the FBI stresses you should use credit cards instead of debit cards when paying for items at a card reader.

“You’re better protected," said Guth. "It’s not directly into your bank account. A debit card is potentially linked directly to your checking account or even maybe linked to some people’s savings accounts, which means thieves have access to your hard earned cold cash. Once they get it, it’s gone.”

The U.S. Secret Service estimates $1 billion are stolen every year by criminals using card skimmers - that’s 350,000 a day. Shimming is even more high-tech and will only add to that total.

Knoll says do not assume your information is safe. He advises you to put security alerts on all your cards, change your passwords regularly and always look over your credit card statements.

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