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How to protect credit cards from skimmers and shimmers

The way we shop has changed a lot in recent years. A little more than 10 years ago, the usual thing was the purchase in a physical store and the payment in cash. Today, although many purchases continue to be made like this, things have changed. The tendency is to use the credit card a lot and to make purchases online. For this reason, numerous frauds related to credit cards have appeared. In this article we are going to talk about how to protect credit cards from skimmers and shimmers.

Credit cards and their enemies

Today’s credit cards come with a variety of security measures that help keep our financial data safe thanks to chip and tokenization technology. In case you didn’t know, when tokenization is activated, an algorithm generates a random and unique value that replaces the buyer’s account number. This random value is called a token and is used to proceed with the payment without exposing the bank card details.

Criminals use a variety of devices to bypass these security features and steal credit card information. The credit card skimmer has been around for a long time, but now shimmers have appeared that are more dangerous because they can obtain more data. You may be interested in how to manage bank cards in Chrome to avoid leaks.

Skimmers, shimmers and their differences

The skimmers and shimmers we can define them as small devices that criminals place in ATMs, gas stations, parking payment machines and other places where we use credit or debit cards.

As far as the skimmers they are the oldest and are also used the most. Its way of use is to fit the real card reader into these devices. In this aspect, what they do is collect information from the magnetic stripe of our card when we use it. The difference with a legitimate one is that the skimmer will channel our card information to criminals. Thanks to this information, these criminals can clone that card they scanned. Modern cards are more difficult to cheat and as we mentioned before they have chips and tokenization to generate new payment information every time a transaction is made. An important fact to comment on is that skimmers cannot steal data from the chips.

On the other hand, shimmers which are newer data stealing devices can already steal data from the chips. Also, shimmers are like skimmers, they are also embedded in the chip reader of a credit card terminal, between the terminal itself and the victim’s credit card. In addition, these devices are paper thin and the size of a card. This makes it easier to place them because they are so small. In this case, you can obtain both the information on the magnetic stripe of the card and the data on the chips. So it is possible that some devices can collect even our PIN and card number. As for data collection, it is done wirelessly through a small radio module integrated into the shimmers. Right now they are still not very common but as they find ways to make these devices cheaper they will be seen more.

How to protect yourself from these criminals

Today you have to be very careful when using credit and debit cards. Security experts say that virtual cards offer better security against skimmers and shimmers. Many of them work in prepaid mode, that is, they have a certain balance, and they will not be able to withdraw money from our account.

On the other hand, if you have no choice but to use conventional cards, there are a number of clues to look for. Thus we have to observe that the card readers are not loose or insecure, have a different appearance or a PIN pad that is thicker than normal. Also note if there is a flash coming from inside. Finally, it is quite possible that our credit or debit card has some security measures to protect us from skimmers and shimmers. However, we must observe the signs in the readers because we may be vulnerable to these devices.

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