June 16, 2024

Written by: Michael Bartiromo and Nick DeGray

Publication Date: 4 months ago

Recent findings of credit card skimmers in several retail stores around New England have led local law enforcement to advise patrons to be vigilant of potential scams.

On the eve of Christmas, an observant employee at a Sudbury Farms supermarket in Sudbury, Massachusetts, stumbled upon a skimming apparatus during their regular oversight of the self-checkout kiosks. This fraudulent device has been designed to mirror the aesthetics of a real credit card reader. Nexstar’s WWLP was among the first to report this case. Shortly after this discovery, another faux reader was spotted in a different self-checkout aisle.

The parent organization of the supermarket chain promptly initiated an inquiry, which unveiled the presence of skimmers at four more establishments within Massachusetts.

Understanding Skimming Scams

Typically, skimmers aim to victimize those who frequently transact using ATMs, gas station pumps, or credit card readers at different stores, as the FBI affirms. Scammers artfully contrive equipment resembling genuine card readers, striving to seamlessly integrate with the original machine.

The counterfeit contraption utilized is usually a convincingly authentic card reader applied over the actual, in-built reader, the FBI clarifies.

Once an unsuspicious victim slides their credit card through it, the skimming device either accumulates or transmits the victim’s sensitive data for ill-intentioned persons to exploit later.

In addition to this, criminals also resort to concealed cameras to clandestinely monitor and record victims as they enter their PINs into ATMs. Others construct bogus numeric keypads to track and capture such sensitive user information.

Identifying Skimming Devices

The FBI provides some practical and efficient guidelines for safeguarding your information. Before you proceed with a transaction, always examine the reader for any signs of tampering like unfastened parts or inflicted damage. Even minor scratches or adhesive tape impairment could cue tampering. If the card skimmer feels unstable upon a light shake, notify an attendant.

To thwart hidden cameras from capturing your PIN, the FBI suggests protecting the keypad with one hand while you type in the number with the other.

The FBI further elucidates that scammers have a tendency to victimize popular tourist spots with their operations.

At fuel stations, the Federal Trade Commission offers guidelines for detecting signs of skimming. These include broken security seals over panels or readers that seem wobbly or distinct from those at the neighboring pump. To err on the side of caution, patrons have the option of making cash payments instead of using their cards. Alternately, they can refrain from selecting the debit payment option to prevent the need for entering a PIN.

If you suspect that you might have been swindled, notify your card issuing company or bank immediately, as well as local law enforcement agencies. They should be alerted about any potential scams.

As far as the spate of skimming incidents in Massachusetts is concerned, a representative of the supermarket has stated that customers who made purchases at the self-checkout counters of these stores on or before Christmas Eve could potentially be affected. However, there were no reports of breached customer data several days after the counterfeit devices had been discovered.