At least five Walmart stores in New York have had skimming devices installed by suspected scammers during the past week, according to reports from local police agencies to Nexstar’s WSYR.
On Sunday, July 2, each machine was set up, and on Wednesday, July 5, it was discovered.
Police in Auburn, Camillus, and Oswego all released surveillance footage showing the same three people either entering the store or attempting to tamper with the credit card machine.
A skimming device, disguised as a machine’s outside casing, is alleged to have been installed, with the intended effect of stealing credit card details from unsuspecting customers.
In a highly public spot, “it’s been called ‘gutsy’ to put those devices,” said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Samantha Baltzersen.
Skimmers target magnetic strip cards because they are the easiest to steal information from. Even the newest chip cards are vulnerable to sophisticated skimmers, albeit this is less common.
New York City police have not determined how sophisticated the skimmers employed here are.
No victims have been reported to police in connection with the Walmart skimming cases, but shoppers who used their credit cards there during the affected four-day period should be on the lookout for unauthorized transactions.
According to FICO’s senior director of product management, “they’ll try to hit where they see weaknesses in the system or weaknesses in the locations,” Debbie Cobb.
Cobb warned that consumers should be wary of utilizing credit card payment terminals that appear to have been tampered with or to have had something attached to them.
FICO provided more guidance on what to watch out for and how to safeguard yourself:
What should consumers look out for?
- Examining the slot where a credit card is inserted is essential for shoppers before they make a purchase. Something is wrong if it seems sloppy or unrelated to the rest of the system. Do not finalize the transaction if there is any suspicion.
- Due to technological developments, card skimming devices are now more complex and difficult to detect. Micro cameras disguised as pinholes are commonly installed by fraudsters at the top of ATMs and other point-of-sale terminals. Customers should be wary of payment systems with any gaps or loose connections that could allow for the theft of personal data. Scammers can use these cameras to see while you input your PIN, so make it a practice to shield the pad entirely whenever you enter your number.
How can consumers protect themselves from card skimming?
- Customers should always try to pay with the safest method possible. The magnetic stripe on your card is the least secure form of payment. Your financial transactions will be safer with a chip card or a contactless payment option. If you find yourself in a scenario where you must use a magnetic stripe card, please take a moment to increase your level of awareness and protect your PIN.
- You should sign up for alerts from your financial institutions. Customers of many banks can set up real-time alerts to be notified of unusual activity or if a certain sort of transaction or threshold is reached, for example. You can better safeguard your money by making use of the tools provided by your banking institution.