Diners at P.F. Chang’s Should Check Their Credit Card Statements

Financial Services // Food and Beverage

The nationwide chain has reverted to old fashioned carbon copies of receipts and fax machine transactions to prevent further data theft, after acknowledging it is the latest victim of a payment card breach.

P.F. Chang’s confirmed the breach on 6/12 and said it first learned of the incident on 6/10 – the same day Krebs reported a potential hack.

On 6/9, thousands of nicked credit and debit cards went up for sale on rescator [dot]so, an underground store that sold tens of millions of cards stolen in the Target breach. Banks that acquired multiple cards to see if there was a common denominator among the bounty “found that all had been used at P.F. Chang’s locations between the beginning of March 2014 and May 19, 2014,” Krebs wrote. 

The goods are not cards, but rather data copied from the magnetic stripe on the backs of cards.

“The most common way that thieves steal this type of card data is by hacking into cash registers at retail locations and planting malicious software that surreptitiously records mag stripe data when cards are swiped through the machines,” he wrote.

With this information, crooks “can re-encode the data onto new plastic and then use the counterfeit cards to buy high-priced items at big box stores,” products that can be quickly resold for cash like iPads and gift cards, Krebs said. 

He suspects the culprits are in Russia and Eastern Europe, because wiring instructions for customers who want to buy the filched data make reference to service disruptions due to a Russian holiday. 

“P.F. Chang’s learned of a security compromise that involves credit and debit card data reportedly stolen from some of our restaurants,” the company said in a statement. “Immediately, we initiated an investigation with the United States Secret Service and a team of third-party forensics experts to understand the nature and scope of the incident, and while the investigation is still ongoing, we have concluded that data has been compromised.

At P.F. Chang’s, the safety and security of our guests’ payment information is a top priority. Therefore, we have moved to a manual credit card imprinting system for all P.F. Chang’s China Bistro branded restaurants located in the continental United States. This ensures our guests can still use their credit and debit cards safely in our restaurants as our investigation continues.

“We have also established a dedicated public website, pfchangs.com/security, for guests to receive updates and answers to their questions. Because we are still in the preliminary stages of our investigation, we encourage our guests to be vigilant about checking their credit card and bank statements. Any suspected fraudulent activity should be immediately reported to their card company.”

The manual check-out process was confirmed by an incident handler at the SANS Internet Storm Center, who reported that “the bartender placed the bill down along with a manually run credit card from one of the ole’ school card imprinters.”