On Tuesday, June 10, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro CEO Rick Frederico made an initial statement about a potential credit card security breach made onto their restaurants. This includes any transactions made at their affiliated Pei Wei Asian Diner restaurants. After being under investigation since then, P.F. Chang’s has confirmed that there was indeed a credit card breach.
P.F. Chang’s was notified by the United States Secret Service on Tuesday of the breach. Immediately, the Secret Service and also experts on third-party forensics started the investigation on the issue. While retailers like Neiman Marcus, Michaels, and Sally Beauty have all had credit card issues within the past eight months also, this could be yet another massive breach of data, following on the heels of the Target scandal that occurred during last year’s holiday season.
This security breach may have affected those who used any type of card transaction at any of the two restaurant chains dating back from March of this year to May. In total, P.F. Chang’s has 211 restaurants nationwide plus an additional 192 Pei Wei Diner restaurants. Authorities are encouraging anyone who had been to any of the two restaurants to check their current bank statements and take further action to prevent unauthorized use of the of the credit card.
P.F. Chang’s will be using manual imprinting until further notice to process any credit or debit card transactions to ensure the protection of their customers’ credit card information. There is absolutely no technology involved in the manual imprinting system and simply makes a copy of the card onto carbon paper for processing. The imprinting system will prevent further credit card theft at P.F. Chang’s as there will be absolutely zero card transactions in their computerized systems. This will be in effect until the breach is resolved as P.F. Chang’s confirms this credit card breach Friday morning.
The Secret Service first discovered the issue when Brian Krebs, a cyber security blogger, found thousands of both credit and debit card information up for sale on an underground store. This unidentified store was the same one to have sold millions of account information from the Target scandal late last year. Krebs instantly went to higher banking sources to confirm the issue. There, they revealed that the “retailed” card information were in fact those used at P.F. Chang’s between March and May.
Hackers plant a dangerous software into targeted systems to retrieve the magnetized strips on the back of cards. These strips and other information go up for individual sale on the underground store for as little as $18 and as much as $139. From there, anyone who purchases these packs have the ability to connect the strips onto their own counterfeit credit cards for their personal use.
Since the Target scandal, other retailers like Neiman Marcus, Michaels and Sally Beauty have reported other credit card breaches in their systems. Yet an even bigger amount of retailers, restaurants, and other places where consumer data is used throughout the country may have had their numerous instances where a customer tried using a card where it was denied or “unable to read.” With this, it is still encouraged to have precautions.
It is always recommended that a credit and debit card holder check their accounts periodically to confirm all transactions were made. Additionally, many companies are also doing their part and have changed their security policies to ensure fraudulent transactions from occurring. Most retailers are requiring their customers to have their I.D. ready if they wish to use a credit card. They also check to verify that the last four digits on the card match the last four numbers that appear on their screen, which is something that hackers are unable to confirm themselves as they only retrieve the strip. Most companies will also deny any requests made by the customer to type in the card if “for some reason” the card is unable to read.
As P.F. Chang’s China Bistro confirms a credit card breach in their system, their restaurant’s data team and the Secret Service are working on resolving the issue. Until then, all of their restaurants will remain open and are required to use manual imprints for credit card holders.
By Tricia Manalansan