Credit Card Skimmer Found at Another Walmart Self-Checkout—How to Protect Yourself
The news comes on the heels of 16 other Walmart stores falling victim to skimmers this year.
According to a study conducted by FICO, card skimming—scammers tampering with ATMs or checkout equipment to steal personal information from your credit or debit cards—increased by a staggering 368 percent in 2022. The data analytic company, which specializes in credit scoring services and consumer credit risk, discovered that more than 161,000 debit and credit cards were impacted. Credit card skimming can happen any time and anywhere—your favorite retailer, the gas station, an ATM, or even your local grocery store. But Walmart seems to be a frequent target.
As the holidays ramp up, police are advising people to be extra cautious at the register after several credit card readers were found to have skimmers at a Walmart in Louisiana, per CBS-affiliate WWL-TV. Local county police identified a suspect, but an arrest warrant is still pending and the case will be opened in other jurisdictions as well.
It's not an isolated incident either. This summer, card skimmers were found at 16 different Walmart locations, Good Morning America reported in July.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), thieves plant skimmers in card readers to steal data or PINs. People who do this tend to be fast and well-trained, and know how to fix the skimmer to the machine so it blends in with existing hardware, per Bankrate.
While tracking down and stopping the thieves responsible is one part of the solution, it doesn't diminish the fact that credit card skimming is a real threat in the U.S. And self-checkout kiosks in particular seem to be a popular target. So, how can you protect yourself from card skimming? These sneaky devices can be difficult to spot, but taking a few extra minutes to examine point-of-sale (POS) terminals and ATMs can make all the difference.
In an interview with GMA, Brad Leonard, Assistant to Special Agent in Charge at the Miami Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service, advised people to pay close attention to their credit card and bank statements. If you notice a charge that you didn't make, contact your bank immediately.
"Take a look at your statements. There will be a minimal charge at first to make sure the card works before the stolen data is good, before they actually phone it and use it for a large purchase," Leonard said.
Additionally, before you use a POS device or ATM, check to see if the machine has been tampered with. Don't use a machine that looks damaged or loose—you can also tug around the keyboard to scan for an overlay. When you do use the machine, cover your pin as you enter it so an overhead camera can't record you.
A final tip: Look into upgrading your card to one with a chip as those don't require you to insert the card into a reading device. Apple Pay is also a safer option, using the Tap-to-Pay method.