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Barnes & Noble: Bugs Planted In Credit Card Readers At 63 Stores Nationwide

Nation's Largest Bookseller Implores Customers To Check Their Statements
(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Barnes & Noble is warning its customers to check their credit and debit card statements for unauthorized transactions after discovering someone tampered with its card readers in 63 stores across the country, including several in the Tri-State Area.

Only one device was tampered with in each store, affecting fewer than 1 percent of card readers in Barnes & Noble stores, the company said in a news release on Wednesday.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

The company disconnected all of the devices at its nearly 700 stores after detecting the tampering on Sept. 14.

The FBI asked Barnes & Noble not to disclose the breach last month, for fear of compromising the investigation, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

The criminals apparently planted bugs in the devices to get customers’ credit card and PIN numbers, Barnes & Noble said, calling the tampering a “sophisticated criminal effort.”

The nation’s largest bookseller is working with federal law enforcement authorities as well as banks, payment card brands and issuers to identify accounts that may have been compromised.

Among the stores affected is the Barnes & Noble located at 82nd Street and Broadway. Shoppers near that location said they are always on the look-out for suspicious activity.

“I’m not that concerned because I watch my accounts and there hasn’t been anything on it,” one shopper told Diamond outside the Upper West Side store.

“I think that we live in an age of a major information release and I don’t think that any of us are protected against it,” a concerned shopper told Diamond.

Still, shoppers said there should be a stronger effort to protect against these breaches.

“Credit card companies make an enormous amount of money from people switching over to computerized money and it’s their responsibility to figure out how to do it safely but they’re so profit-driven that they short cut,” the woman said.

But some shoppers said this security breach will not dissuade them from continuing to swipe the plastic.

“I have no other choice, this is my bookstore,” a woman told Diamond.

“I think it’s just something that you have to be aware of. Am I going to change the way I shop? No, it’s just another element of the way life is,” another shopper added.

But with the breach having affected B&N stores across the country, some customers said they still won’t use plastic at the bookstore again.

“A credit card’s like inviting a forest fire to meet my favorite tree,” customer Jack Farwick told CBS Chicago.

Susanna Song of WBBM-TV, Chicago, reported because the company disconnected its PIN pads last month, any purchases since then should not be affected. The company is having each one of its PIN pads tested.

But as a precaution, Barnes & Noble said debit card users who shopped at affected stores should change their pin numbers.

B&N insists its customer database is secure.

The company also stressed that the breach involved only purchases made in a store using one of the tampered devices and that transactions on Barnes & Noble.com, Nook devices and apps were not affected.

The following stores in the Tri-State area were affected:

Connecticut

470 Universal Dr. North in North Haven
100 Greyrock Pla., Suite H009, in Stamford
60 Isham Rd. in West Hartford

New Jersey

395 Route 3 East in Clifton
55 Parsonage Rd. in Edison
2134 State Highway 35 in Holmdel
4831 US Highway 9 in Howell

New York

23-80 Bell Blvd. in Bayside, Queens
176-60 Union Turnpike in Fresh Meadows, Queens
1542 Northern Blvd in Manhasset, Long Island
160 E. 54th St., in the Cigitroup Center, in Manhattan
2289 Broadway, on the Upper West Side, in Manhattan
33 E. 17th St., in Union Square, in Manhattan
555 Fifth Ave. in Midtown Manhattan
2245 Richmond Ave. in Staten Island
230 Main St. in White Plains
97 Warren St. in TriBeCa, in Manhattan