If a thief wants to steal a bunch of credit cards, the easiest way for them to do it is with a skimmer. Skimmers are electronic gadgets a thief can attach to payment terminal in a store, an ATM, a gas pump or anywhere else people swipe cards.
Part of the skimmer reads the card's information when it's swiped, and another part grabs the PIN, if you use one. There are plenty of ways for skimmers to accomplish both tasks, and we've told you how to spot a number of them in the past. Unfortunately, they keep getting more sophisticated and popping up in increasingly scary places.
Historically, skimmers appeared in outdoor or easy-access areas, such as ATMs, gas pumps and cash machines. However, recently some were discovered on the self-checkout machines inside Safeway stores in Colorado, Maryland and possibly other states.
That means the thief had to put the skimmer on the machine under the eyes of security cameras and employees. Even worse, the skimmer is almost undetectable because it looks exactly like the checkout machine's faceplate and PIN pad.