ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A cybersecurity expert is sharing how we can protect ourselves from fraudulent activity after skimming devices were found in two Finger Lakes area Walmarts. He says it can be difficult to protect yourself from skimmers when they look like regular card readers. His advice is to protect your card before it gets to a scanner.
Between July 2nd and 5th, the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office found skimming devices in a Geneva and Canandaigua Walmart. It’s unclear if any data was collected on these devices, but New York State Trooper Lynnea Crane says even if it looks like you’re just paying regularly, it could be stealing your information.
“Usually, they’re using the magnetic strips, so when you swipe the card, it’s taking that information. You’re still able to make a normal transaction with it. And then the keypad, if you type in like your pin number, it will take that information down. It’s going to store it. From there, it can basically be used through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth sometimes.”
There are ways to protect yourself before you get to the card reader. Crane says you can use a credit card instead of a debit card so that if there is fraudulent activity, you can be reimbursed. RIT Cybersecurity expert Ahmed Hamza says the best way to protect your information stored on your card is by using an app on your phone.
“Those online payment systems can actually help sometimes. The best mechanism to offer another buffer is, I think to use any of these Apple Wallet, Google Wallet, any kind of buffer system where you’re not exposing your info directly, and there’s like a secondary thing happening where it’s that company making the payment on your behalf and charging you.”
And before you even step foot in the store, you can see what personal information is out there to see what information is at risk.
Hamza adds if you think you’ve been a victim, you should lock your card immediately or order a new one. The Ontario County Sheriff’s Office advises anyone who used a debit or credit card at those stores to check their statements for unauthorized purchases and contact law enforcement if necessary.