Arby's has joined the list of fast-food chains that have suffered mass credit card thefts in the past year, mostly due to malware that makes its way into restaurants' computerized cash registers.
More than 355,000 card numbers used at Arby's restaurants between Oct. 25, 2016 and Jan. 19, 2017 may have been stolen, according to independent security blogger Brian Krebs. Krebs received confirmation of the breach from Arby's, but company representatives would not confirm the number of affected customers, which Krebs said came from other sources.
"[Arby's Restaurant Group] immediately notified law enforcement and enlisted the expertise of leading security experts, including [cybersecurity firm] Mandiant. While the investigation is ongoing, ARG quickly took measures to contain this incident and eradicate the malware from systems at restaurants that were impacted," the company told Tom's Guide in an emailed statement.
If you think used your credit card at Arby's between those dates, check your credit card or bank statements for suspicious activity. If anything fishy comes up, call the bank or service that issued the card right away to avoid being on the hook for any fraudulent charges.
You may be asked if you want to report the card stolen so that you can receive a new credit card number. If you're worried about long-term damage to your credit, check your credit report free via AnnualCreditReport.com.
It's very unlikely that a stolen credit-card number will lead to full-blown identity theft, but you're concerned, ask one of three big credit-reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian or TransUnion -- to put a credit alert on your files. (The agency you call will alert the other two to do the same.) Credit alerts are free, can be renewed every 60 days and will notify you every time some tries to check your credit or open an account in your name.
We don't recommend taking a more drastic step -- putting a credit freeze on your accounts -- for credit-card theft. A credit freeze means no one will be able to open a new line of credit in your name while the freeze is in effect. But it can also keep you from getting credit monitoring services, and even delay your own application for a new credit card.
For future purchases, shoppers anywhere should use credit cards instead of debit cards, since the former give you better protection from fraudulent charges.
While hundreds of Arby's stores appear to have been affected by this latest breach, they're believed to be only Arby's-owned stores, not franchises owned by other businesses. The owned-and-operated Arby's restaurants have reportedly purged the malware from their point-of-sale systems in question.
This time last year, Wendy's restaurant point-of-sale systems were breached, giving hackers access to customers' credit card information. Later in 2016, hundreds of thousands of Noodles & Company restaurant-goers at 322 of that company's locations had their credit card information compromised. Wendy's offered affected customers a year's worth of free fraud consultation and identity-restoration services.