2 Ways Consumers Can Protect Themselves From Card Skimming

Suspected scammers implanted skimming devices in at least five New York Walmart locations in the last week, local police departments confirmed to Nexstar’s WSYR.

After devices were discovered in stores in Granby, East Syracuse, Camillus, Auburn, and Oswego, investigations were launched.

The machine was placed on Sunday, July 2nd, and discovered on Wednesday, July 5th, in each case.

Police surveillance photographs from Auburn, Camillus, and Oswego show the same three people entering the store or messing with the credit card machine.

They’re suspected of installing a skimming device, which is a cover that appears exactly like the machine but collects credit card information when the card is input.

“It’s been called ‘gutsy’ to put those devices where they were located, because it’s a very public area,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Samantha Baltzersen.

Skimmers often target the most vulnerable cards: those that need a magnetic stripe swipe. Advanced skimmers can even collect information from newer chip cards, albeit this is less common.

The sophistication of the skimmers utilized in this string has not been assessed by New York police.

Police have not received any complaints of victims in the Walmart skimming incidents, but customers who used their credit cards at the impacted Walmarts during those four days should be on the lookout for fraudulent charges.

“They’ll try to hit where they see weaknesses in the system or weaknesses in the locations,” said Debbie Cobb, a senior director of product management at FICO.

Cobb said anytime you see a credit card payment terminal that looks like it may have been tampered with or has something attached to it, you should exercise caution and avoid using it to pay.

FICO shared more advice on what to look for and how to protect yourself:

What should consumers look out for?

  • When it comes time to make a payment, customers should pay special attention to the area of the device where they put their card. Anything that appears loose or divorced from the actual system should raise a red alert. If something appears questionable, you should not proceed with the payment.
  • Recent technological advancements have enabled fraudsters to use increasingly sophisticated and difficult-to-detect card skimming equipment. For example, fraudsters would place microscopic cameras that resemble a small pinhole on the top of ATMs or other points of sale. Consumers should be on the lookout for any little gaps or disconnected sections of the payment system that could be gathering their personal information. Because fraudsters will utilize these cameras to watch your PIN code, it is critical that you cover the PIN pad fully when entering your information.

How can consumers protect themselves from card skimming?

  • Consumers should always seek for the most secure payment method. Using the magnetic stripe on your card is generally the weakest way of payment. Payment methods with a chip or that permit contactless payments are more secure. If you have to use the magnetic stripe, take a moment to increase your awareness and be sure to shield your PIN code.
  • It is critical to configure alerting with your financial institutions. Many banks allow their customers to set up real-time alerts for suspicious transactions or specific transaction kinds or characteristics, such as exceeding a specified dollar amount. Consumers can better secure their cash by utilizing the technologies provided by their banking institution.

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