Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A confirmed Dec. 31 it is investigating a potential data breach of its payments system. Security blogger Brian Krebs first reported the potential breach Dec. 30, saying his contacts in the banking industry reported a pattern of fraudulent activity on cards used at Chick-fil-A restaurants.
According to Krebs, affected cards were used at locations mainly in Georgia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. The Georgia-based chain has 1,850 locations in 41 states and Washington, D.C.
If the investigation confirms a data breach, affected Chick-fil-A customers will not be held liable for unauthorized card activity and will receive free identity protection services, the company said in a release posted to its website. That release states Chick-fil-A first learned of a potential issue Dec. 19, kicking off the investigation, and preliminary information suggests only credit card information may have been compromised.
There’s no sense in waiting for the company to confirm a breach: As a regular habit, you should closely review your payment card activity for unauthorized use, and if you detect anything unusual, report it to your card issuer so you can stop the fraud, have the charges reversed and get a replacement card, if necessary. While this is an important step to take if you think you may have been affected by a possible Chick-fil-A breach, any credit and debit card user should make this a common practice. Such breaches are common, and you’re likely to be affected by one at some point, if you haven’t been already.
If your credit card data is compromised in a breach, someone could use it to run up a lot of debt. And even though you won’t be liable for all (or any) of it, the debt could hurt your credit score, affecting your ability to get a loan, job or apartment. In addition to checking your card activity, you should also check your credit score for signs of fraud. You can get two of your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.
For debit card users, the consequences can be more severe: When someone commits fraud with your debit card, it’s like they’ve swiped cash from your wallet, which you may need to pay bills or purchase life’s essentials. You should eventually get all or most of that money back, but in the meantime, you may be missing a significant sum from your bank account, which could lead to missed bill payments or overdraft charges.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email