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Lucky Supermarket Chain Reveals Scope Of Card Reader Scam

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Customers using the self-checkout at a Lucky supermarket. (CBS)

Customers using the self-checkout at a Lucky supermarket. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – More than 100 employees and customers have had their identities stolen at Bay Area Lucky supermarkets by thieves who tampered with the credit and debit card readers in self-checkout lines, according to the company.

The store chain announced Monday that thieves managed to place card skimmers into the readers at 23 stores. The readers captured personal information from 23 customers and 80 employees.

The chain says many of those people had money stolen from their accounts. Store officials recommend that anyone who used self-checkout terminals in the affected stores in the past few months to close their accounts immediately.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

Save Mart Supermarkets, which operates Lucky stores, originally reported tampering at 20 locations throughout the Bay Area, along with one Save Mart store in Watsonville.

The company has since learned that three more stores in Novato, Sunnyvale and Petaluma were targeted, said Alicia Rockwell, public affairs director for Save Mart.

The three additional stores were missed in the original report sent to the company’s Asset Protection Team, she said.

“These were not newly tampered card readers but part of the original discovery,” she said.

At each store, only one card reader in a self-checkout lane was targeted, Rockwell said.

The company has received at least 80 employee and customer reports about the compromised or attempted compromise of card data, Rockwell said.

The skimming devices that are installed in the card machines capture credit card numbers and debit card PIN numbers. Identity thieves then make transactions on those cards.

The company first learned about the problem around Nov. 11 and sent out a Consumer Advisory on Nov. 23, Rockwell said.

There was no estimate of how many customers may have been victimized or the total amount that was fraudulently taken from their debit accounts or added to credit card debt because reports are still coming in, Rockwell said.

“We feel awful about this. We’re reeling,” Rockwell said.

Rockwell said the U.S. Secret Service was investigating the case.

“We strongly recommend our customers who used a self-checkout lane in the affected stores contact their financial institution to close existing accounts and seek further advice,” Rockwell said.

SaveMart, the parent company of Lucky, said it has checked all its stores and wants to assure customers that its card readers are now safe.

Save Mart operates 233 stores in Northern California and Northern Nevada under the Save Mart, S-Mart Foods, Lucky and FoodMaxx banners.

Any Lucky customer affected by fraudulent use of their debit or credit card should contact the store’s Customer Support Center, 800-692-5710.

Stores with tampered card readers:
815 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda
6843 Mission St., Daly City
1000 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito
5000 Mowry Ave., Fremont
35820 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
919 Edgewater Blvd., Foster City
25151 Santa Clara St., Hayward
45 Murchison Drive, Millbrae
1350 S Park Victoria Dr., Milpitas
715 E El Camino Real, Mountain View
1761 Grant Ave., Novato
939 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma
1530 Fitzgerald Drive, Pinole
200 Woodside Plaza, Redwood City
1133 Old County Rd., San Carlos
234 Saratoga Ave., Santa Clara
5510 Monterey Highway, San Jose
200 El Paseo De Saratoga, San Jose
844 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
3270 South White Rd., San Jose
1515 Sloat Blvd., San Francisco
484 N Mathilda Ave., Sunnyvale
32300 Dyer St., Union City
SaveMart, 1465 Main St., Watsonville

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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