3 Ways to Not Get Hacked at Chipotle

Chipotle recently experienced a cyber security breach, where most of their locations were infected with malware on their POS systems. This article discusses what to do if you were a possible victim, and how to prevent yourself from becoming one in the future.

Chipotle is a popular fast-casual restaurant with a fresh take on Mexican food. I once ate there for dinner, lunch, and dinner all in a row. And I would recommend it to anyone under any circumstance, except the one they are currently in.

The situation? A recent malware infection that allowed the theft of customer card data during the end of April and the beginning of May. Not every restaurant was affected, but if you ate at Chipotle (like I did), you should check this list here to see if the locations near you were affected. You should also carefully examine your card records and statements, and report any suspicious activity to your payment card company.

Chipotle has issued a statement on their blog about the situation. According to the post, the malware affected the Point-Of-Sale- (POS) systems used at a number of locations, It gives specific information for residents of North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and California, and what they should do if their payment card information has been stolen.

Pizzeria Locale is another restaurant affiliated with Chipotle. They use the same POS system and were also affected by the breach in cyber security. Though there are only a few locations of this restaurant, if you ate there during March or April, please check this site here, and your payment card records.

It seems like every day another company reports cyber crime activity. And it seems like more often than not it’s somewhere that affects you. How can you stay safe from all these cyber threats? How can you ensure your payment information is safe at restaurants and retailers? How can you eat your burrito without being worried if it’s your last?

There are more than a few way to be a smarter consumer. And I’d be a hypocrite if I was talking about not consuming Mexican food. I’m talking about using payment cards to make purchases. Here are three ways to eat out smarter, and protect yourself from cyber crime.

1. “Dip the Chip”

I said it goes beyond this, but using an EMV payment card is a much smarter option than just swiping. Most have heard that in one way or another it’s safer because the data is encrypted, or because it can be used offline, or other reasons. Something you might not be as familiar with is the topic of card skimmers. You’ve seen the little-taped labels on gas station pumps, which is the company’s way of proving its safe to use, but it’s a lot easier to steal information from a magnetic stripe than an encrypted EMV transaction.

2. Cash

The classic “simple solution to a complex problem”, no one can steal your payment card information if you don’t use it to buy your burrito. You could also use cash to purchase a gift card, then use that instead of a regular card, and that caters to those who don’t want to carry cash.

3. Order Online

The malware was found on the POS system used at Chipotle’s locations, but a separate system is used for their website, where you can order a custom menu item just as you would at the restaurant. You pay online, with a payment card or gift card, and can pick up from your chosen location at your chosen time. Skip the line at the restaurant? Sounds good to me.

In any case, it’s always good to shop smart. Chipotle has confirmed that they have dealt with the malware, and it is safe to again use their POS system. Whatever your opinions on burritos are, make sure you purchase them in a safe way.