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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

July 12, 2016

Ever heard of “Skimming”? How about “Shimming”?

Submitted by Anna Schremmer

It’s a con in which criminals install illegal card-reading devices on ATMs, gas pumps and other public area machines that process debit cards. How it works: You put your card in the reader and the device “skims” your information from your debit card’s magnetic strip. A nearby hidden camera records the PIN you enter. Then the criminals make duplicate copies for them to use or to sell on the black market.

Now they are more advanced and wedge a similar device to read data from chip-enabled cards. This is called “Shimming”. What to do? How can you protect yourself?

1. Use the ATM at your bank. ATM’s at your bank are generally more secure and better maintained than ATM’s at non-bank stores.
2. Inspect before using. If a card slot is a different color than the rest of the machine; have unusual equipment on the slot, keypad or sides, or overhead (camera) or doesn’t accept your card smoothly, walk away.
3. Hide it. When entering your PIN, cover your hand as you press keys.
4. Keep close tabs on all payment cards. Put alerts on your phone for text message or emails.
5. Create a separate account. Have an account just for debit card transactions.
6. Lower your daily limit. Set a daily limit for ATM withdrawals. That way scammers can’t make consecutively withdrawals within minutes of each other.