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Security & privacy

A warning to Costco customers – Card skimmers spotted stealing card info

Shopping online comes with hidden dangers, and many are still uneasy about the process. Those people usually prefer to go into a physical store, as they deem it somewhat safer. But that isn’t always the case.

Card payment facilities are incredibly vulnerable to attack from hackers or criminals, as they have had years to refine their techniques. Recently card skimmers have been running rampant around the country.

A simple device is attached to a gas pump, ATM, or point of sale (POS) machine, and when a customer swipes their card, the details are stolen. Unfortunately, many Costco customers recently found out just how quickly cards can be skimmed. Read on to find out if you’re impacted.

Here’s the backstory

Several users noticed unusual charges on bank statements after shopping at Costco and took to social media to complain about it. Not only were the charges unusual, but it turns out that they were outright fraudulent.

According to Costco, a card skimming device was attached to payment terminals at undisclosed Costco warehouses. The devices skimmed the banking details of an unknown number of people and ended up in the hands of criminals. The exposed details can include:

  • Name
  • Card number
  • Card expiration date
  • CVV

Those are all the details a criminal would need to wipe out your bank account. Costco sent notifications to customers who might have swiped their cards at the implicated warehouses.

To minimize the risk of identity fraud, Costco is allowing affected customers to enroll in identity theft protection services through IDX for free. Keep an eye on your inbox for the details if you are a customer.

Also, be cautious of phishing emails where thieves spoof Costco piggybacking off this information. If you receive a message from Costco, make sure to contact the company through official channels.

Costco is also offering 12 months of credit and CyberScan monitoring, a $1 million insurance reimbursement policy and ID theft recovery services.

What to do next

If you are a Costco shopper, your first step is to check your bank and credit card accounts to look for suspicious activity. If you find any, contact your bank immediately and report it.

Here are some safety precautions to take against card skimmers:

  • Stay aware – Look at the card reader, keypad and any other component of the POS terminal for scratches, glue or other signs of tampering.
  • Eye spy – Holes that look out of place may be hiding a camera.
  • That doesn’t belong – Does a component look oddly out of place? It could be a color or material that contrasts other parts of the machine. It could be sitting strangely or obscuring graphics or icons on the machine that should be seen clearly.
  • The wiggle test – Try to wiggle the card reader without inserting your card. Does it seem wobbly? If so, don’t use it.

Keep reading

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