Whole Foods Hit by Credit-Card Thieves, but Don't Panic

Organic-food supermarket chain Whole Foods tonight (Sept. 28) disclosed that it had been the victim of credit-card theft, but emphasized that the theft was limited to the payment systems used in the chain's full-service restaurants and "taprooms."  The regular supermarket-checkout credit-card system does not appear to have been affected.

A Whole Foods store in San Jose, California. Credit: Whole Foods

(Image credit: A Whole Foods store in San Jose, California. Credit: Whole Foods)

"Whole Foods Market recently received information regarding unauthorized access of payment-card information used at certain venues such as taprooms and full table-service restaurants located within some stores," a statement posted on the Whole Foods website said. "These venues use a different point-of-sale system than the company’s primary store-checkout systems, and payment cards used at the primary store-checkout systems were not affected."

Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods has 471 stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K., according to the company website. It's not clear how many of those stores contain restaurants and taprooms, the latter of which is Whole Foods' upscale-organic way of saying "bars."

MORE: What to Do If Your Credit Card Is Stolen

"The Amazon.com systems do not connect to these systems at Whole Foods Market. Transactions on Amazon.com have not been impacted," the statement added. "Whole Foods Market encourages its customers to closely monitor their payment-card statements and report any unauthorized charges to the issuing bank."

Amazon.com recently bought Whole Foods, and its first action upon acquisition was to lower prices across the organic-groceries chain that many customers had half-jokingly referred to as "Whole Wallet."

Whole Foods did not state how many stores might be affected by the credit-card theft, and for how long the card theft had been going on.

If you have indeed used a credit card or debit card at a Whole Foods restaurant or bar in the past several months, call the customer-service number on the back of the card or go online to check the most recent transactions.

If there's a purchase that you don't recognize, immediately notify the financial institution that issued your card. If you do so, you won't be held liable for any fraudulent transactions, and the only thing you'll have to worry about is getting a new card in the mail.

Paul Wagenseil

Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and privacy. He has also been a dishwasher, fry cook, long-haul driver, code monkey and video editor. He's been rooting around in the information-security space for more than 15 years at FoxNews.com, SecurityNewsDaily, TechNewsDaily and Tom's Guide, has presented talks at the ShmooCon, DerbyCon and BSides Las Vegas hacker conferences, shown up in random TV news spots and even moderated a panel discussion at the CEDIA home-technology conference. You can follow his rants on Twitter at @snd_wagenseil.