Super skimmers: The new way criminals are hacking your account, even if you don’t swipe your card

Criminals are evolving and finding more sophisticated ways to steal your money – even with chip cards. Super skimmers are now being used, and security experts tell Boston 25 News, they’re much harder to detect. But there are things to watch out for to protect your money.

The sophisticated new device being used by criminals is called a shimmer. In November, surveillance cameras showed thieves targeting ATMs in Washington State.

“It was a shock,” said Elaine Fischer. She says she was a victim after a trip to the ATM. She says her information was stolen and $1,000 vanished from her account

“I really thought a lot about the idea that someone had my information,” said Fischer.

“Shimming is much harder to detect,” said Robert Siciliano, a cyber security consultant in Boston and CEO of ProtectNowLLC.com. He says shimming is much different than traditional *skimming*, which relies on a bulky overlay device.

Siciliano says the difference with shimming is that the device is installed inside the ATM. Most businesses aren’t even aware they’ve been hit until it’s too late, he said.

“The devices are much more expensive to create but in the end, once the shimming device is installed, it’s much harder for not only the consumer to realize but even the bank themselves to even know that their devices have been compromised,” said Siciliano.

Chris Hansen with the U.S. Secret Service says the scammers plant a slim piece of metal inside the ATM.

“With the newer technology, of course, the components can be smaller and smaller,” said Hansen.

Criminals harvest the stolen data, print fake debit cards, and go on a spree at other ATMs.

Investigators say the thieves often use a tiny camera to steal your pin number.

So what’s being done to stop them?

Many banks are trying to stay one step ahead of the scammers. The Washington State Credit Union hit by shimmers last year now uses high-tech fraud detection software to

catch unusual transactions. The credit union blocks those accounts and then works with ATM manufacturers to prevent more fraud.

“They now are working to find a solution to retrofit machines to address this latest technology,” said Ann Flannigan with WSECU. “I don’t want people to feel, you know, frightened to use an atm and certainly not at a financial institution… this is rare for us to have this incident.”

How do you protect yourself?

Siciliano recommends taking a few steps:

  1. Pay close attention to your debit or credit card activity

  2. Set up mobile alerts on your phone so that anytime there’s an activity with your account, you’ll know.

  3. And above all else, if you have the option, tap your card instead of inserting or swiping it in the machine.

Siciliano says that’s the one sure way of avoiding the shimming trap.

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