Feeling Un-Lucky in San Carlos.

December 6, 2011

Debit Card Skimming Reported.

Thanks to James Lanares of the Bay City News Service for breaking this story.   If you patronize the San Carlos Lucky Supermarket, and you have used your debit card at those convenient self-checkout aisles, then you'll definitely want to pay attention here.  Save Mart, the parent company of Lucky Supermarkets, reported that they have discovered that some of the card scanners that are located in the self-checkout lanes in 20 of their Bay Area Lucky stores have been rigged with card skimming apparatus.

These devices allow thieves to capture the account number and PIN number from unwitting shoppers, which then allows the crooks to freely steal money from their checking accounts, or make unauthorized purchases.    The bad news here is that the Lucky Store in San Carlos is on the list of stores where skimming devices were found.   Wonderful…

How Can This Happen?

That was the first question that popped into my head.   After all, aren't these self-checkout kiosks located right in the very front of the store??  In front of all of the employees??   And right under all of those little blue security cameras?    Ummmm… Is anybody minding the store, so to speak?   This kind of breach is something you might expect at a remote ATM machine, or a dumpy gas station — NOT where you buy your groceries.  Shame on Save Mart for not having better security in place.

What Should You Do?

According to Save Mart executives, the skimming appears to have taken place during the months (months!!) of October and November of this year.   In response to this breaking scandal, an executive from Save Mart issues the following statement:

“At this time, we strongly recommend that anyone who used our self-check terminals in the affected stores during the months of October and November consider closing their bank account and opening a new one”

— Stephen Ackerman, Save Mart CFO

Before you take such a drastic step, you should call your financial institution first.  According to the rep at Wells Fargo Bank, closing your entire checking account is an unnecessary step for this situation.  They recommend cancelling your debit card and getting a new one issued — one that has a new account number and new 3-digit security code on the back.   But again, call your institution and get their advice on how to proceed.

The bottom line is that even getting your debit card re-issued creates a whole series of headaches.  If you use your debit card for automatic bill pay, or for online purchases, you'll need to go onto each and every website and load in the new card information once your new card is issued.  That's what I will be doing today…

Thanks, Lucky.   Safeway and Whole Foods just got one new customer….

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  1. Michael on December 6, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I never shop at Lucky, but went in for some last minute things the day before Thanksgiving since I was at Home Depot too…used my debut card in the self checkouot lane…DOH!

    Since I found out about this 2 days later, I’ve been checking my acct daily; so far, no issues.

    Unbelievable to me that this can happen in such a high profile area, but it was probably done overnight; remember, they are open 24 hours and not much is going on there at 3AM.

  2. Francois on December 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Much of Europe has done away with magnetic pin stripe cards and switched to chip-based card for better security. It baffles me as to why it isn’t being implemented here. In fact, American tourists are often stuck when trying to withdraw money from European ATM’s.

  3. James on December 7, 2011 at 3:55 am

    They have elaborate systems to prevent someone from stealing a loaf of bread. But they cant stop this? Its an inside job all day!

  4. Michael on December 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    the more I thought about it, I decided to replace my debit card. Took a few minutes and hopefully this will be the end of it.

  5. Chuck Gillooley on December 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Yep, I did the same thing yesterday. No reason to take a chance.

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