ATM skimmers fit over existing card readers and take information from any person that swipes their card.
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Hy-Vee customers are being advised to monitor their bank accounts for unauthorized activity after the Midwest grocery chain officials said it detected possible security issues with payment processing systems at some of its fuel pumps, drive-thru coffee shops and restaurants.
In mid-August, Hy-Vee announced it was investigating the incident with the help of cybersecurity experts. On Monday, a Hy-Vee spokesperson said in an email that the investigation is ongoing.
The data involved is from the magnetic strip on the back of a payment cards, which sometimes includes the cardholder’s name in addition to the card number and expiration date, said Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Potthoff.
“The payment card industry and other identity protection experts generally agree that compromised payment card information by itself is not able to be used to commit identity theft, so we do not believe this incident creates any significant risk of identity theft,” Potthoff wrote.
But credit and debit card accounts used at select Hy-Vee locations may be the source of data from 5.3 million accounts being offered for sale on the dark web, information security investigator Brian Krebs reported last week.
For consumers, basic fraud protection measures are free. Federal law allows Americans to freeze and unfreeze their credit at the three major credit bureaus at no cost. The law came more than a year after Equifax disclosed a major data breach that exposed the personal information of about 147 million people.
The Iowa Attorney General’s office advises consumers to take these specific steps to prevent fraudsters from opening credit cards and other loans in your name:
Freeze your credit
A security freeze prevents potential creditors and other third parties from accessing credit reports — a key part of the approval process for a credit card or loan.
Placing a freeze should be relatively easy, but you must sign up separately at each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Step 1: Go to the three credit bureau websites and locate the “security freeze” link.
For Equifax: Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/
For Experian: Experian.com/freeze
For TransUnion: Transunion.com/credit-freeze
Provide your name, address, social security number and date of birth. You may be asked to provide information like previous addresses, past loans, and credit cards you hold in order to confirm your identity. You can also submit a credit freeze request via phone or in writing.
Step 2: Select the security freeze option.
Step 3: Record your PIN number, as you will need it to change the status of your freeze, like when you want to “thaw” or unfreeze it to get a loan for a new car or apply for a mortgage.
If the credit bureaus cannot sufficiently verify your identity, you may need to mail in copies of your driver’s license, utility bills or other documentation to execute a freeze.
Set a ‘fraud victim alert’
Place a temporary “fraud victim alert” on each of your credit reports by calling any one of the three credit agencies. The company you call will forward your request to the other two. Less severe than a freeze, fraud alerts tell lenders that your personal data may have been compromised and to take extra steps to verify your identity before approving new credit.
Monitor your accounts
Closely monitor your credit card and bank accounts. If you find unauthorized charges, immediately notify the financial institution that issued the card. The relevant phone number is usually printed on the back of the card.
More information about identity theft can be found at the Federal Trade Commission’s website and the Iowa Attorney General’s office website.
More: Skimmer fraud: How to protect your credit and debit cards at the ATM, gas pump
USA TODAY reporters Janna Herron and Adam Shell contributed to this report.
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