ATM “Shimmers” Threaten Chip Credit Card Security

ATM “Shimmers” Threaten Chip Credit Card Security

January 30, 2017         Written By John H. Oldshue

Credit card skimmers are devices used by criminals to steal your debit or credit card information when you slide it into the sleeve of an ATM or gas pump. These devices are relatively bulky and difficult to conceal, making them somewhat impractical for identity thieves.

Unfortunately, a new threat has reached the market, a thin, virtually undetectable reader designed to target chip-based credit cards. Known as “shimmers,” these devices sit between the chip reader in an ATM or register and the chip on the card. They cannot be used to collect chip information, but they can gather the magnetic strip data from the card if it is replicated inside the smartchip.

Shimmers were first discovered in 2015 in Mexico, but they have since made their way into Canada. Many card processors are worried they could soon spread to the United States because of the country’s transition to chip credit cards.

Criminals can install shimmers on existing chip readers, or they could implant them into new machines for companies that are converting their point of sale terminals. The information on the shimmer can be collected by inserting a special card in the reader, so the transactions could go unnoticed for quite some time.

Security experts encourage store and ATM owners to conduct daily checks of their credit card readers to make sure tampering has not occurred. Consumers should always monitor their financial accounts to catch unauthorized charges as soon as they occur.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of January 30, 2017. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About John H. Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers credit card rate issues for
View all posts by John H. Oldshue
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