If You Shop At Walmart, You Might Want To Pay Attention When You Scan Your Card at Checkout

In recent years, “skimming” has become an increasingly popular way for thieves to steal your money with a single swipe of your credit card.

All criminals have to do is install a small electronic device on top of credit card readers in order to take personal data right off your card’s magnetic strip.

Oftentimes, they’re used at gas stations, ATM machines and retail and grocery stores.

But the latest reports of skimming have hit discount retail giant Walmart, in at least two locations in Virginia and Kentucky.

According to Krebson Security, the skimmers used in the attacks are hard to spot, especially since they closely resemble real card readers such as this one:

Image Credit: Flickr CC/Mike Mozart

Image Credit: Flickr CC/Mike Mozart

As WLWT News reports, at a Fort Wright, Kentucky Walmart, two men installed a skimmer at self-checkouts on May 11. And it wasn’t until May 18 that a Walmart asset protection associate found the device.

So for an entire week, these alleged criminals potentially got away with stealing personal information and money from Walmart customers:

Image Credit: Screenshot/WLWT

Image Credit: Screenshot/WLWT

And for shoppers who went to the Central Park Walmart in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in March and April, police say they should contact their bank and have new cards issued.

According to fredericksburg.com, 37 local credit union members reported Walmart skimmers obtained their card information and allegedly made “large withdrawals” at area ATMs as a result.

However, thieves should beware, says Walmart Senior Manager of Communications Erica Jones:

“First and foremost, we have zero tolerance for any crime against our customers, our associates or our company. As soon as we heard about the possible fraudulent activity in these stores, we took action to protect our customers. We are working with law enforcement authorities to investigate this activity and are taking additional steps to help ensure that our customers’ transactions are safe, including increasing store inspections.”

Because thieves use a variety of different skimming designs, it’s difficult to know exactly what to look for. They are often bulky:

Here are some tips to help you prevent your card from being “skimmed”:

  • Know what to look for- if anything seems out of place, unusually bulky, or poorly affixed to the machine, gently tug on it. If it moves or comes away from the ATM, it may be a skimming device.
  • Look for hidden cameras- skimming is a two-step process because criminals can also obtain your PIN. This is often done with a pinhole camera hidden on or near the machine. Look for anything that may have a tiny hole or slot for a camera to be placed inside, especially if it’s aimed at the keypad. These devices may be stuck to the top or side of the machine, or placed inside light fixtures above it.
  • Know your surroundings- machines with a lot of customers, especially in tourist areas, are most likely to be targeted by criminals. When using an ATM especially, look for one that’s inside a bank or within the sight of a security camera, where scammers would be less likely to take a risk.

According to a report from Pace University and the U.S. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, card skimming is a “huge problem,” and has been on the rise in recent years.

Credits: Ijreview