If you shop at Safeway, you should double and triple check your bank statement immediately. In the last few days, the megawatt supermarket chain was a major target of card-skimming attacks that have put nearly all of its stores in two states at risk.
According to Krebs on Security, financial institutions are investigating a series of compromised credit card terminals at Safeway outposts in California and Colorado. For reference, a credit card skimmers is a device used to log card data and PIN numbers that is embedded directly into the card-processing machine. The company has yet to announce which locations in particular were affected by the security breach, however early reports indicate that only specific check-out lanes were targeted.
Some customers’ bank accounts have since been totally drained. And apparently they hadn’t just shopped at Safeway. A spokesperson for the grocery chain, Brian Dowling, told Krebs that “this is not unique to our company, and we understand some other retailers may have been more significantly impacted.” So far it’s unknown which retailers might have also become victims to the card-skimmers.
That being said, Krebs makes a good point about the perpetrators’ plan of attack. To obtain card data and PINs, the skimmers would need direct, physical access to the card-processing machines, saying that “skimming incidents involving checkout lanes in retail locations generally involve someone on the inside at the affected retailer.”
Unfortunately, as Gizmodo points out, there are only a few basic precautions you can take in these situations. First, pay using credit when you can, avoid suspicious-looking terminals, and watch your account. If you see any unauthorized activity, notify your bank immediately.
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