June 15, 2024

By: Michael Bartiromo and Nick DeGray

4 months ago

SUDBURY, Mass. (NEXSTAR/WWLP) – The unearthing of credit card skimmers at several retail outlets in the New England area has triggered warnings from local authorities for customers to remain vigilant of such frauds.

While monitoring the self-checkout section at a Sudbury Farms supermarket in Sudbury, Massachusetts, on the Eve of Christmas, an employee inadvertently found a skimming device. This imitation device is designed to appear as a genuine credit-card reader, as reported by Nexstar’s WWLP. Another skimmer was discovered later on a different self-checkout lane.

An immediate investigation was launched by the parent company of the supermarket chain. Subsequently, skimmers were revealed at four additional locations in Massachusetts.

Information of these discoveries is in the wake of a report in November from the police department of Concord, New Hampshire. They alerted the community about skimmers found at Walmart and the Market Basket supermarket in the city.

“Law enforcement agencies throughout New England are investigating similar cases,” stated the Concord Police at that time.

Understanding a Skimming Scam

Targeting people using ATMs, gas pumps, or credit card readers at retail outlets are common strategies of skimming scams, advises the FBI. Scammers make devices that resemble real card readers, which are then integrated to look like a part of the actual machine.

Often, the particular device used by the scammer mimics a card reader and is situated over the authentic card reader,” enlightens the FBI.

Once the unsuspecting victim swipes their credit card, the skimming device records and retains the victim’s information ready for retrieval by the criminals.

As the FBI informed, hidden cameras are also used by scammers to capture victims typing their PIN numbers at ATM machines. Fake numerical keypads are created to record these keystrokes, thus stealing the passwords.

Identifying a Skimming Device

Ahead of inserting your card into a reader, inspect it thoroughly for any loose parts or damage, recommends the FBI. Signs of tampering could be scraped areas or damage to adhesive tapes. If the skimmer feels unstable when you lightly shake it, inform an employee immediately.

Cover the keypad with one hand while keying in your PIN with the other to prevent any hidden cameras from capturing it, further suggests the FBI.

Law enforcement in Concord has also observed that some scammers might coerce victims into swiping their card at the counterfeit reader, by obstructing the chip slot, making it appear jammed.

ATM machines at tourist locations are also favorite targets for scammers, warns the FBI.

Pictures of a skimming device (outer and under side) discovered at a Concord shopping outlet were shared by the New Hampshire Police in November. The device, designed to be placed over a genuine card reader, deceives victims into swiping cards or inputting sensitive data. (Source: Concord Police Department)

At gas stations, the Federal Trade Commission shares advice to identify signs of skimming like broken security seals on the cabinet panel, or card readers appearing loosened or modified compared to those at nearby pumps. Customers can consider paying in cash or refraining from using the debit option to prevent entering a PIN for additional security, the FTC suggests.

If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a scam, contact your credit card company or issuing bank immediately, says the FBI. Local law enforcement agencies should be alerted about such potential scams without any delay.

Regarding the skimming devices unearthed in Massachusetts, a spokesperson from the supermarket mentioned that customers who patronized the self-checkout lanes at those grocery stores on or before Christmas Eve might have been affected. Yet, several days post the discovery of the devices, no reports of compromised customer data had been received.