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Skimming Devices Found in Rockland County Stores: A Call for Vigilance

Over the past few weeks, storeowners in the tri-state area have discovered credit card and EBT skimming devices on their card machines.

Recently, a skimming device was found at the cash register of Madanim Supermarket in New Square and other local shops. Ramapo Police, along with Chaverim of Rockland and New Square’s Ershte Hilf, are investigating the incidents.

Credit card skimming involves a device that reads the magnetic stripe on your credit or debit card when you slide it into a card reader at an ATM, gas pump, or other point-of-sale terminal. “The magnetic stripe of a credit card contains the cardholder’s name, credit card number, expiration date, and security code,” explains Chris Parker, founder of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com and host of the Easy Prey Podcast. “The same data is stored on a debit card as a credit card.” The skimmer then saves this data for future use.

Tom Kellermann, senior vice president of cyber strategy at Contrast Security, explains that hackers use stolen data to make fraudulent charges online or over the phone, set up automatic payments, sell the data, or create counterfeit cards.

According to FraudWatch International, an internet security organization specializing in online fraud and phishing, skimmed data is typically:

Transmitted to other countries, where the information is copied onto counterfeit cards.

Used to make internet or over-the-phone purchases, known as “card not present” fraud.

Used for identity theft, where criminals use stolen personal data to set up accounts or take out loans in the victim’s name.

Kellermann warns that you might not even notice your card has been compromised. Some scammers employ the “salami slice” method, making small charges on thousands of stolen accounts daily or every other day. If you’re not closely monitoring your account balance, you might miss these fraudulent charges.

How to Spot a Card Skimmer

A compromised payment system might have a card reader that:

Is bigger than others nearby.

Is easy to wiggle.

Contains a broken security seal on a gas pump.

Has a pinhole above the keypad, which may indicate a hidden camera.

Strategies to Prevent Credit Card Data Theft

Consumers can take several steps to avoid falling victim to credit card skimming:

Run your debit card as a credit card without using your PIN.

Cover your hand when typing your PIN.

Pay inside at the gas station.

Use tap-to-pay functionality.

Pay with cash.

Use online or mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal.

Set up alerts to monitor activity on your credit and debit cards.

Review your statements regularly.

Choose gas pumps in well-lit areas.

Avoid ATMs in out-of-the-way locations.

Use credit cards instead of debit cards for better liability protection.

Additional Recommendations

Experts also advise:

Resisting the urge to scan random QR codes or click on links from unknown senders.

Turning on automatic updates on your devices.

Using a virtual private network (VPN).

Setting full-sentence passwords.

Installing antivirus software on all devices.

Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when not in use.

By staying vigilant and taking these precautions, storeowners and consumers can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to credit card skimming and related fraudulent scams.

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