P.F. Chang’s China Bistro a major restaurant chain with more than 200 restaurants has just announced that it is investigating what has been called a “potential” security breach, which in fact is not potential, but an actual data breach in which data on a yet undetermined but large number of credit cards and debit cards used at P.F.Chang’s restaurants in Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada and North Carolina between March 2014 and May 19, 2014. As with many other recent large data breaches, notably Target, the data breach was not discovered by the company itself, but rather by banks monitoring fraudulent credit card use which were able to trace the cards back to P.F. Chang’s. Thousands of credit and debit cards that were subject to the data breach are being sold on the black market to identity thieves who purchase the cards for prices ranging from $18 per card to $140 per card with Platinum and Business cards more valuable. The precise manner that the data breach occurred has not yet been determined. As I have warned you many times, you should expect more and more of these data breaches in the upcoming days ahead as companies have not done enough to protect their data.
So what does this mean to you? As I have cautioned you many times, you should not use your debit card for anything other than an ATM card. Using it for retail purchases potentially puts your entire bank account tied to the card in jeopardy. By using a credit card, your liability is limited to no more than $50 for fraudulent charges and many companies do not even charge you anything for fraudulent charges. Everyone should monitor their credit card statements carefully each month to make sure that no fraudulent charges appear and if they do, you should contact your credit card company to have those charges removed immediately and to get a new credit card.