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Card fraud traced to skimmers in Safeway stores

Card fraud traced to skimmers in Safeway stores
photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If you live in Colorado or California and shop at Safeway, it's time to check your account balances and make sure there's been no fraudulent activity.

Although it's limited to only a handful of Safeway stores, thieves have been able to successfully compromise certain checkout lanes by installing skimmers, which are attached to places people swipe their credit and/or debit cards.

Once in place, skimmers steal the magnetic strip information from your card. Then, thieves use this information to clone your card, and once they have a clone, they can drain your bank account or run up huge bills and trash your credit before you even know it.

Because skimmers often require time and skill to install, most skimmers installed at retailers' checkout lanes signal an inside job.

For now, Safeway isn't releasing the names of the affected stores, but banking sources for security blogger Brian Krebs say they have traced it to Arvada, Conifer, Denver, Englewood and Lakewood in Colorado; and Castro Valley and Menlo Park in California.

What can you do to stay safe and keep your credit information private?

How To Stay Safe

Not many crooks have these advanced skimmers yet, but they'll get less expensive and more widespread in a few years. Fortunately, banks and retailers are switching over to EMV cards that have a chip instead of a magnetic stripe. Learn how these cards keep you safe, and why they still aren't as safe as they could be.

Mobile payment options are also becoming more popular and don't have the security flaws of traditional cards. Not sure how mobile payment works? Here's how to pay on the go using your Android or Apple smartphone.

In the meantime, you should try avoiding swiping your card in the places most likely to have skimmers. Here are the three most risky places to swipe your debit card.

You should also set up text alerts on your cards so you know when you or anyone else swipes them. You can tell right away if hackers have stolen your information. Learn more about text alerts.

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