CLEVELAND - This is a 5 On Your Side Consumer Alert about crooks now getting info from your chip credit cards then selling it on the dark web. They are the same chip cards that are supposed to be better protection for you.
The recent headlines are ominous with tens-of-thousands of dollars stolen, skimmer fraud soaring, and shimmer nightmares. Shimmers are smaller card readers put into chip-reading devices that used to be for collecting info from just magnetic stripes.
Alex Hamerstone from tech security firm TrustedSec out of Strongsville said the shimmers are reading your info on the chip and getting all that the criminals need from your account. “They'll use that chip data to create magnetic stripe cards and then use those (stripe cards) in places that don't require the chip,” said Hamerstone.
Shimmers can hit not just your credit cards, but also your bank card when installed into ATM's. "You tend to see these things installed for a weekend because the banks will be closed. So, there's less chance of being caught,” Hamerstone told us.
The thieves who don't get caught end up selling your information on the Dark Web. And it's not just info from those cards. They get PayPal and Bitcoin info, drivers' licenses, hacked bank accounts with thousands of dollars in them, and much more.
"If you want to buy a list of credit card numbers from an affluent zip code, you're going to pay more for it than maybe a less affluent one,” said Hamerstone.
He showed us how info is packaged up and sold online. Some offer the Platinum credit cards which fetched the highest amounts on one Dark Web menu we saw. There was info on credit reports with 800+ FICO scores. We saw profiles with social security numbers and dates of birth. Plus, the tools to gather the info, like shimmers, are on there as well.
We asked Hamerstone, “Why so much criminal activity?”
"There's a lot of it going on and limited resources (to stop it),” said Hamerstone. “So, kind of the same thing...like drugs are illegal yet, there's, obviously, a huge drug trade."
Hamerstone said the chip cards still do a good job of preventing hacks into your info, but there are some things to keep in mind in the fight against the financial crooks. Make sure you ask for alerts to be sent to your phone anytime there's any activity.
Hamerstone has that for his credit card. “As soon as I could see (the waitress) put it in the terminal, it popped up on my phone...the charge." And he has the alerts for his banking accounts. "If I'm sitting here and it pops up that I have an ATM transaction, I'll call the bank and put a stop to it."
He also suggests watching your statements very closely, checking them daily when possible. "(The criminal activity is) constantly changing and the threats are constantly changing and we're all out there trying to stay ahead of it."
Hamerstone told us the shimmers can even collect info and send it wirelessly through a Bluetooth connection making it even easier and quicker for the crooks to steal your money.