Supermarket shoppers in France warned over loyalty card scam

Carrefour has issued tips aimed at protecting its customers from the swindle

Carrefour loyalty card holders have been particularly targeted
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Not content with attempts to access bank accounts, fraudsters are now targeting supermarket loyalty cards as a quick source of money.

Consumer rights watchdog UFC Que-Choisir has highlighted a number of recent cases of scammers getting access to shoppers’ supermarket loyalty cards and spending the money held on them.

Carrefour loyalty card holders seem to be particularly targeted, although in theory a number of loyalty card schemes could be attacked in the same way.

Using traditional methods such as email phishing to get information such as account passwords, fraudsters then hack into a person’s account, logging into the account through the supermarket’s smartphone app.

Although money on loyalty cards can only be used to pay for goods in the supermarket, this has not been deterring the scammers, who will pay for their shopping using the funds on the card, in stores sometimes hundreds of kilometres away from the victim’s home address.

One woman (under the pseudonym Madame G) told the consumer rights group that more than €70 in shopping credits was drained from her Carrefour account – in two separate shopping sprees – at locations in Paris.

Mostly Carrefour loyalty cards targeted

Although any type of loyalty card could be targeted, supermarket loyalty cards – the type scanned physically or through an app when at the checkout – are most frequently singled out.

This is because these cards are more likely to be used frequently – therefore having more funds on them – and can be used across potentially thousands of locations in the country.

Information is gained through traditional methods, such as email phishing. People may be less vigilant over fraud involving a loyalty card than their bank one.

This could be because they believe little harm could come from someone having the login information for their supermarket account – but this is not true.

Once hackers obtain the information, they will log in to the account via the supermarket’s app using their smartphone and then use the funds on the card to pay for their shopping.

A number of supermarkets do not require scanning of a physical loyalty card, but instead scan the card details through a smartphone application.

Many supermarket apps also allow people to have the same loyalty card across multiple devices (for example, an entire family may use one loyalty card for all their purchases), meaning it does not immediately raise suspicions if a new device logs into the account.

Scammers can drain the account of funds – paying for anything leftover in cash to not leave a trail of who they are – before logging out of the account and deleting it from their phone, leaving victims none the wiser until they next check their account.

In the case of Madame G, Carrefour graciously supplied a refund of the savings accumulated in her account.

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Tips on keeping your account secure

Although most loyalty cards will only have small-to-medium levels of funds saved on them, accounts can accumulate significant savings.

If used smartly, loyalty cards can rack up hundreds of euros of bonuses, with many families opting to use this to pay for a large shopping trip at Christmas or a big family event.

Therefore, Carrefour has offered some advice to cardholders to protect their accounts.

An official email was sent out to loyalty card customers providing tips to secure your account.

The tips include:

  • Regularly changing your account password
  • Being wary when opening emails, which could be phishing for information
  • Updating the loyalty card codes frequently online or via the app

The supermarket also urged people to use complex passwords and unpredictable codes, avoiding birth dates as this is among the easiest information to find online.

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