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shutterstock_261472283Irish retailer Primark announced on November 3, 2016 that skimmers were found on point-of-sale terminals in all five of their U.S. locations, including the Downtown Crossing, Boston location.  According to Primark, the skimmers were discovered on October 17 and officials believe the devices may have been placed sometime around the end of July.

What is a skimming device? A skimmer is a small device that is illegally affixed or installed to a point-of-sale terminal, a keypad or credit/debit card slot, or even in the case of gas pumps, to the inside of the pumps upper chamber. Thieves use these devices to skim, or steal, credit and debit card information from unsuspecting consumers. Because they are difficult to detect, thieves often get away with obtaining financial information and spending a consumer’s money before the device is found.

If you shopped at Primark at any time in the last few months, be sure to take the following steps:

  • Review and monitor your credit and debit card accounts, making sure to look at older statements. If you notice any suspicious or unauthorized activity, contact your bank or the card issuer immediately.
  • Obtain a copy of your credit report. Consumers are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
  • Consider placing a fraud alert on your credit report.  Fraud alerts require creditors to contact you before opening up a new account or increasing credit limits.
  • Massachusetts consumers can also place a security freeze on their credit report, which prohibits a credit reporting agency from releasing any information from the report without written authorization. If you have been a victim of identity theft, the credit reporting agencies cannot charge you to place, lift, or remove a security freeze, so long as you provide them with a valid police report.
  • If you are the victim of identity theft or financial theft, act quickly. Contact your local police department and file an official report with the Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement authorities. Visit http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft for more information.

For more information about the breach and what Primark is doing, visit their website.

Want more information on skimming devices? Check out our blog posts on how to protect yourself at the gas pump or the ATM.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s  Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

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