Major supermarket chain alerts customers to information breach after discovering skimmer devices

A Giant Eagle Inc. Market District supermarket stands in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019. Photographer: Allison Farrand/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A major supermarket chain is alerting customers of an information breach that occurred at five of its stores. 

Giant Eagle said it discovered five skimmer devices that were potentially used to steal customer's payment card information via PIN pads. 

The first tampered PIN pad was found on November 3 and the last was found on November 9. 

Following the discovery of the first tampered PIN pad, store officials immediately inspected all store locations and found additional tampered ones. 

The tampered pads are now being analyzed, and the store said it could take weeks before they can get any additional information. 

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A company spokesperson believed the potentially impacted customer number remains very low as most customers either insert or tap their chipped cards. 

"All potentially affected bank and credit card providers have been notified," the company said in a news release. "Customers who have visited any of these five locations, used the magnetic swipe mechanism on the PIN pads and are concerned that they may have been impacted should closely monitor their account statements for signs of fraudulent activity." 

Giant Eagle has stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Maryland.

Skimming is a type of fraud where criminals steal data through bogus card readers. 

How to keep your cards and data secure when using your card in person

Your card is a valuable tool for making payments, but it also carries some risks. Fraudsters can use various methods to steal your card information or PIN and use it for unauthorized transactions. To prevent this, you need to take some precautions when using your card in person. Here are some tips to help you protect your cards and data from fraud.

Protect your PIN: Your Personal Identification Number (PIN) is the gateway to your funds. Never share your PIN with anyone or write it down where it can be easily discovered. Always cover the keypad while entering your PIN.  Be cautious of skimming devices attached to ATMs, which can stealthily capture your card information.

Be alert and aware: When using your card in person, be aware of your surroundings and watch out for any signs of tampering or skimming on the card reader. If something looks suspicious, do not use the card reader and report it to the merchant or the authorities. Also, be careful of anyone who tries to distract you or offer you help while you are using your card. They may be trying to steal your card or PIN. There is an increased risk of card theft, and fraud is higher in certain places like gas stations, restaurants, and bars.

Travel safely: When traveling, inform your bank or credit card company about your plans to avoid potential holds on your account due to unusual activity. Keep your cards in a secure location and avoid displaying them in public.

Use contactless payments: Contactless payments are a convenient and secure way to pay with your card without inserting it into a terminal or handing it over to a cashier. You can use your card, smartphone, or wearable device to tap and pay at participating merchants. Contactless payments use encryption and tokenization to protect your card information from fraudsters.

Use chip over magnetic strip: Whenever possible, opt for using the chip on your card rather than the magnetic strip. Chip technology offers enhanced security against cloning and fraud.

FOX News and FOX Business contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.