Learn about skimmers and shimmers and how you can protect yourself from this type of credit and debit card fraud.

Credit and debit card theft is something none of us want to experience but should all be well aware of. It’s frustrating and scary to think that it can happen, but today’s fraudsters have multiple ways of stealing your card information. One way card fraud happens is through the use of skimmers and shimmers. Read on to learn about these devices and how you can protect yourself from this type of card fraud.  

Skimmers and Shimmers: How to Protect Yourself From Card Theft

August 15, 2017

Learn about skimmers and shimmers and how you can protect yourself from this type of credit and debit card fraud.

Credit and debit card theft is something none of us want to experience but should all be well aware of. It’s frustrating and scary to think that it can happen, but today’s fraudsters have multiple ways of stealing your card information. One way card fraud happens is through the use of skimmers and shimmers. Read on to learn about these devices and how you can protect yourself from this type of card fraud.

Skimmers and shimmers are fraudulent devices used to gather your card data during the card transaction process, often referred to as the point of sale or POS. Once a fraudster gathers your card data, they will then use an encoder device to program your card data to a cloned card, typically a gift card. They can then use the card as if it was a real credit or debit card, making charges to the stolen card holder’s account.

So what exactly are skimmers and shimmers?



Skimmers: devices affixed externally to a point of sale machine, typically placed over the card reader area or covering the entire face of the point of sale machine. They are hard to identify, and in many cases look very similar to the original point of sale equipment.

Shimmers: devices located inside a point of sale machine (i.e. pay at the pump terminal, or placed within the card reader itself), making shimmers even harder to detect than skimmers.

How can you protect yourself from this type of fraud?




  • When purchasing fuel at a gas station, try to utilize the fuel pumps closest to the store front when paying at the pump. These are less subject to fraudulent devices.
  • Utilize your card purchase as a “credit” transaction, as opposed to a “debit” transaction. This will help protect your PIN number from being compromised and also routes the transaction through VISA, helping add an additional layer of protection from fraud losses (due to Visa’s Zero Liability1 policies).
  • Pay inside versus paying at the pump.
  • Sign up for a card security product, such as our Debit Card Control2. You can set alerts, turn off your card, set spending limits and more to help protect your card.
  • Utilize Online and Mobile Banking to track your accounts and report anything suspicious to your financial institution right away.

As always, staying alert and aware of your account activity will help you stop a fraudster in their tracks. You can learn more about protecting your cards from fraud and how to keep your money safe on our Privacy and Security page.

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Equal Housing LenderThis credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Redstone is an Equal Credit Opportunity Lender.

This content is provided for informational and educational purposes only and considered accurate as of the date posted. Views and opinions expressed in comments do not constitute an official endorsement by Redstone Federal Credit Union® or its affiliates. Redstone encourages you to seek professional advice for your personal situation before making any financial decision and is happy to assist you at any of our branch locations.

Must be RFCU® member to obtain or use any product or service. Must open a share savings account to join RFCU. A $5 minimum balance is required to open a share savings account and must be maintained in the share savings account at all times. Age and other restrictions may apply.

1Visa Zero Liability policy covers U.S.-issued cards only and does not apply to ATM transactions and PIN transactions not processed by Visa or certain commercial card transactions. Cardholder must notify issuer promptly of any unauthorized use. Consult issuer for additional details or visit www.visa.com/security.

2Must have online banking username and PIN/password to access online banking and mobile banking.Standard wireless carrier text message and/or data rates and fees may apply; check with your carrier for more information. Must have compatible mobile device to use service.  Certain functions of the service may not be available for all transactions or at all times.  Controls and alerts based on the location of mobile device or location of merchant may not apply appropriately in some transactions and in some card-not-present transactions.