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Credit Card Numbers Stolen From PIN Pads At Local Barnes & Nobles

Credit and debit card information was stolen from PIN pads at five Barnes & Noble outlets in San Diego County, the bookseller announced today.

The thieves struck 63 of the chain's 700 stores nationwide in early September. The thefts did not affect transactions made via the company's website or by the Nook portable reading device, according to the company.

The affected stores in San Diego County are:

-- Chula Vista, at the Otay Ranch Town Center;

-- Escondido, on W. Valley Parkway;

-- Oceanside, on Vista Way;

-- San Diego, on Westview Parkway; and

-- Santee, at the Santee Town Center.

The thieves attached a "bug'' to one customer PIN pad at each store to collect identifying information, according to a company statement. Barnes & Noble has discontinued the use of PIN pads.

The company called the thefts a "sophisticated criminal effort to steal credit card information, debit card information, and debit card PIN numbers from customers who swiped their cards through PIN pads when they made purchases.''

Customers who made purchases at the listed stores should consider changing their PIN numbers and review their bank and credit card statements for unauthorized purchases.

The New York Times quoted an unnamed company official who said the thieves did use stolen information to make purchases, but such activity has declined recently.

The company said in its statement that it is assisting federal law enforcement and working with financial institutions to identify accounts that have been compromised.

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