VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A warning for anyone who may have used their credit or debit cards at a pair of Canada Line stations this past weekend.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police say debit and credit card skimmers were found in Compass vending machines at the Vancouver International Airport and Vancouver City Centre stations on Sunday — and may have stolen user data.
“There were three machines that were actually compromised,” says Anne Drennan with transit police. “The skimmers were located in the late afternoon.”
To the untrained eye, Drennan says it would be easy to miss the skimmers.
“It’s extremely well done. Our people are trained to take a look at the machines on a regular basis and do regular checks, as well when the machines are serviced on a regular basis they’re always checked of course. And two of the Canada Line staff noticed that there was something amiss and discovered quite quickly that the skimmers were in place.”
The skimmers at YVR aren’t believed to have been in place before Sunday — but Drennan says it’s still unclear when the one at Vancouver City Centre was installed.
Some have wondered why it’s taken police days to alert the public about the skimmers. Drennan says it’s because forensic analysis takes time to conduct, and adds police need to obtain as much information as possible before putting an advisory out.
“It takes some time to actually do any kind of analysis on these skimmers and try and figure out how long they’ve been in place, what kind of information might have been received, that kind of thing,” she tells NEWS 1130. “At this time it’s not clear whether or not any card data was actually obtained, but out of an abundance of caution we’re asking all customers who used their debit or credit cards in the Compass vending machines at one of the two stations involved… to check with their financial institution just to ensure that their cards haven’t been compromised.”
Transit police are hopeful no information was actually taken by the skimmers, however, it’s unclear if the devices were able to transmit data from the CVMs, or if they needed to be picked up by whoever placed them there.
“We found them before they were picked up, but because the forensic analysis is not yet complete, we just don’t know for sure.”
Anyone who used their cards at either station on Sunday before 5 p.m. is asked to check in with their banks.
A first for the transit line
This is the first time skimmers have been reported at Compass vending machines.
“This has never happened before with our machines,” Drennan says. “I just want people to know that our TransLink staff members are trained to do regular checks and do regular checks, and it’s because of that that this was discovered as quickly as it was.”
She’s hopeful they won’t see this issue again but adds if it does, it won’t happen often.
With more people using their credit cards to tap on and off buses and into SkyTrain stations, Drennan says users shouldn’t be concerned about their data being compromised.
“Tapping on the gate doesn’t present the same risk at all,” she explains. “This skimming incident is completely unrelated to the fare gates or anything at all involving the fare gates, so it’s a completely separate sort of situation.”
Drennan says the three skimmers are similar to ones people have either seen or been warned about for years at ATMs and other card machines.
“Fortunately the fare gates don’t offer that same risk at all.”