One or more local businesses may have card skimmers in use.
We have some information that credit cards and ATM cards are being compromised at one or more businesses around Torrance. We have it narrowed down to about 12 possible locations and are trying to localize it more. What everyone should be aware of is that the magnetic stripes on the cards are not safe, don’t use them.
Use the chip reader instead. This is the type that you insert the card, and wait for it to process the transaction, not swipe, or insert and pull out quickly. In some places this may be inconvenient when a store is not put to date with the security, but it has become a necessity to the point it would be better to not shop at stores that are not up to date on their security requirements.
Update: We have been activly hunting for these skimmers using RF scans. So far we have not gotten a hit on one of the 12 locations, which does not mean they are clean, it just means they use another communication method. We did ever get a hit on a Chevron station, which was not on the list. We are still working on confirming it, but we do have a very unusual device, that likely does not belong in the station.
Also an interesting conversation with a Taco Bell which was on the list. Their chip readers were covered with tape. When we asked why, the answer was “We don’t know”. When I told them that we were looking for card skimmers and they were on our possible list, I got a smile and a shrug. Some further research has revealed that many retail establishments are covering the chip readers because they take longer. Since the mag stripe readers are not even close to secure anymore, this is a very troubling trend.