Criminals Use 'Shimmers' To Steal Info. From Chipped Credit, Debit Cards

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Shimmers have become the newest tool used by thieves to steal information from credit and debit cards with chips in them.

In the Metro Police Departments Fraud Unit, Sgt. Michael Warren unpacked devices Monday used by scammers in the past.

However, among the gadgets you will not find a shimmer, the newest way criminals have been victimizing card holders.

"Well, the chip is not fool proof. Every technology can be compromised," Warren said. 

Chips were installed on cards to help with security, with each dip into a card reader it produces a unique algorithm for every transaction. "That's what makes it more secure because every time you use it, it's a unique transaction. It's almost like your card number changes every time you use it," Warren explained. 

However, it wasn't long until criminals figured out how to get around it. "Something happened that no one really anticipated, that these fraudsters today are highly skilled criminals," Kathleen Calligan with the Better Business Bureau. "We put a lot more information in that chip and they went thanks, we needed that, kind of because now they have a lot more information."

Shimmers are the size of the chip on your card and thinner than a sheet of paper. They're placed inside a machine using a special, fake, card and that's where they sit, nearly undetectable to the naked eye.

"We haven't had any reports of these devices being found in middle Tennessee but it certainly doesn't mean that they're not already installed," Calligan said. 

To avoid becoming a victim always use your credit card, avoid paying at the pump at gas stations and keep a close eye on your bank statements.

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