Criminals using new technology to target people's bank accounts


Criminals are turning to two new kinds of skimming devices to steal your personal information and cash.

>> Read more trending news

Skimming is when criminals hide electronic devices on ATMs and gas pumps to steal customers’ credit or debit card information.

“It’s a constantly evolving crime here in Cambridge. We see waves of it,” said Jeremy Warnick, Cambridge Police Department communications director.

The first kind of new skimmer is called a shimmer, which goes on the outside of the card reader. The shimmer is much smaller previous devices and blends in better. 

A tiny arm scans the card when people use it. 

"That metal connection steals and stores all of the magnetic strip data " Special Agent Matt Hayes said.

The other device is called a deep-insert skimmer.

The thief takes a very thin piece of metal with electronics hot-glued on top and inserts it into the card reader. There's still room for a card to fit in it. 

“What the criminals are trying to do is plant these, even for a few days, or a day or even an event, go back to the scene take their technology with them, and then plant them somewhere else,” Warnick said.

Trace Gouws said someone stole her daughter's credit card information a few months ago. She said investigators believe it was a skimming device at a gas station but it is unclear what kind of skimmer was used. 

"Everybody's card sooner or later is getting hacked," Gouws said. "I know that sooner or later everything gets hacked."

Here is what to look for:

  • If it's a shimmer, look closely because you may be able to spot it.
  • If it's a deep-insert skimmer, it may be just tight enough, and you have to tug to get your card out.
  • As always, keep an eye on your accounts. Report anything suspicious right away so investigators can look for similar cases.
  • If you have a choice, use ATMs inside buildings instead of the stand-alone kind and pay for your gas inside.
  • If you have a choice, use contactless payment methods.
  • The BBB said to try using tap-and-go features on your credit card instead of swiping or inserting your card.

MORE: Credit card companies urge gas stations to update skimming security


Reader Comments


Next Up in Nation & World

Wahoo: Voice of Mario honored with Guinness World Record
Wahoo: Voice of Mario honored with Guinness World Record

With a “wahoo” and “let’s-a go,” “It’s-a me, Mario,” made it into the record books.  >> Read more trending news  Charles Martinet, the man who has voiced the video game plumber 100 times in Nintendo games through the years, was recently honored with a Guinness World Record for most video...
Bankrupt Sears to pay $25.3 million in bonuses to executives
Bankrupt Sears to pay $25.3 million in bonuses to executives

Sears, which filed for bankruptcy in October, is planning to pay out more than $25 million in bonuses to its top executives. >> Read more trending news  A federal judge has signed off on the company’s request to pay bonuses to some of its high-ranking employees, the Chicago Tribune reported. Sears Holdings filed for Chapter...
How to prevent ID theft amid holidays and ‘data breach fatigue’
How to prevent ID theft amid holidays and ‘data breach fatigue’

Last year’s massive data breach at Equifax highlighted the importance for consumers to take steps to protect their personal data. >> Read more trending news  With holiday shopping in full swing, consumer advocacy groups are urging the public to be cautious. It’s prime time for ID thieves to try to snatch sensitive information...
Officer pens open letter to ‘invincible’ teen pulled over for speeding
Officer pens open letter to ‘invincible’ teen pulled over for speeding

A police officer chastised a speeding 18-year-old he pulled over Sunday in an open letter posted on social media.  >> Read more trending news  The driver was going 100 in a 65 mph zone when he was pulled over, the officer wrote.  “I can tell you dozens of stories of dead and broken 18 year old bodies that I’ve pulled...
Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus joins the Navy
Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus joins the Navy

  Former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus has joined the Navy as a reserve officer with the backing of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, according to media reports. >> Read more trending news  Priebus, 46, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee before joining the Trump White House, was selected as a reserve officer...
More Stories