If you love Chili’s baby back ribs or margaritas, you might be in trouble. Your credit or debit card information could have been compromised.
Brinker International, Chili’s parent company, announced over the weekend that it had experienced a data breach. Hackers accessed the personal data of customers who paid for their meals with credit or debit cards.
If you’re one of the people affected by the Chili’s data breach, here’s what you need to know about protecting yourself.
About the Chili’s data breach
According to Brinker International, the data breach likely occurred between March and April 2018. However, the company is still investigating the incident and its scope.
It believes malware was used to access restaurant payment systems. The malware extracted payment card information, including credit and debit card numbers and cardholder names.
The company notified law enforcement and is working with third-party forensic experts to conduct an investigation into the breach.
Brinker International hasn’t said how many people have been impacted. However, with over 1,600 Chili’s locations worldwide, the number could be significant.
How to find out if your data was compromised
Brinker International said it will email customers who’ve been impacted by the data breach if it has their email address on file and will respond to emails from customers inquiring about the incident.
However, it stressed that the company hasn’t sent any emails yet. So, if you received an email that looks like it came from Brinker International or Chili’s, it’s likely a scam. Brinker International also said it won’t call customers about the data breach, so any calls you receive are likely scams as well.
The company has partnered with ID Experts, an identity monitoring company, to set up a website and call center for customers. To find out if your information was compromised, call 1-888-710-8606 or visit the Chili’s data breach incident website.
5 steps you should take now to prevent identity theft
If you aren’t sure whether you’re affected but are concerned about identity theft and credit card fraud, follow these five steps to protect yourself.
1. Set up a fraud alert
When you put a fraud alert on your credit report, it alerts potential lenders or creditors that your information was compromised.
When someone submits an application for a loan or credit card in your name, the fraud alert warns creditors to take extra measures to verify the applicant’s identity before approving them for credit. A fraud alert can prevent thieves from opening new accounts in your name.
There’s no cost to place a fraud alert on your account, and it’s easy to do. You can do it online through each credit bureau’s website:
Once you place a fraud alert on your account with one bureau, it will notify the other two.
2. Contact your bank or credit card company
If you used a debit or credit card at a Chili’s restaurant, it’s a good idea to contact your bank or credit card company to notify it that you could be at risk and to get a new debit or credit card.
It’s especially important to take action right away if you used a debit card, as debit cards have fewer protections than credit cards do. If thieves use your debit card to make fraudulent purchases, you could lose out on the money. Getting a new card can prevent that from happening.
If you used a credit card, you might not have to take action if you don’t notice any fraudulent charges on your account. However, contacting your credit card company and getting a new credit card can be a smart preventative measure, and it can give you peace of mind.
3. Sign up for identity protection
Brinker International is offering free identity protection services through ID Experts to people who might have been affected by the data breach. Services include:
- 12 months of credit monitoring
- $1,000,000 insurance reimbursement policy
- Educational materials
- Identity theft recovery services
If you’re ineligible for free identity protection through ID Experts or want additional help, Credit Karma offers free identity monitoring services.
4. Review your statements
Even if you get new credit and debit cards and enroll in identity monitoring, you should remain vigilant and review your bank and credit card statements each month. Read each line item to ensure you made all the purchases. If you notice anything that doesn’t seem right, contact your bank or credit card company right away.
5. Check your credit report
Finally, make sure you check your credit report on a regular basis. Your credit report will list all the accounts currently open under your name. If identity thieves opened up a new credit card or took out a loan with your information, it will show up on your credit report.
If you find an account that doesn’t belong to you, you can dispute the charges with the credit bureau. If you’re not sure what to look for, check out this article on how to read your credit report.
You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Protecting your information
When an incident like the Chili’s data breach occurs, it can be overwhelming. Knowing that someone could have stolen your personal information is downright scary. However, you can take action right now to protect yourself and to prevent thieves from using your information for fraudulent purchases.
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