Society

Chipotle Warns Customers Of Data Breach

| by Sheena Vasani

Fast food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill warned customers on April 25 that hackers may have stolen their credit card information.

"We want to make our customers aware that we recently detected unauthorized activity on the network that supports payment processing for purchases made in our restaurants," the burrito chain wrote on its website.

Chipotle says it is still determining when exactly the breach occurred. The restaurant chain believes customers who bought food using their debit or credit card between March 24 and April 18 are particularly at risk.

All recent customers should check their bank statements, just in case.

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"If anyone sees an unauthorized charge, they should immediately notify the bank that issued the card," the company says. "Payment card network rules generally state that cardholders are not responsible for such charges."

Working with authorities, the company says it has since tightened up security.

"We immediately began an investigation with the help of leading cyber security firms, law enforcement, and our payment processor," the website says. "We believe actions we have taken have stopped the unauthorized activity, and we have implemented additional security enhancements."

It is yet another blow to the burrito chain still recovering from a 2016 food safety disaster. Fortune reports multiple E. coli and Norovirus outbreaks caused 2000 stores to close temporarily.

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The crisis ended in February 2016 when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the outbreak was over.

"We are pleased that the CDC has concluded its investigation, and we have offered our full cooperation throughout," Chris Arnold, a spokesman for Chipotle, said at the time. "Over the past few months we have taken significant steps to improve the safety of all of the food we serve, and we are confident that the changes we have made mean that every item on our menu is delicious and safe."

Since then, recovery has been slow.

Profits plummeted by 95 percent, from $476 million in 2015 to $23 million in 2016, reports Eater.

"This incident caused consumers to question core value to associate with Chipotle," The Buckingham Research Group restaurant analyst John Zolidis said in October 2016, reports CNBC.

At the time, Zolidis was optimistic about Chipotle's recovery.

"I do think that over time the customer will just forget about these issues," he said.

With this new crisis, it's not clear what the future holds for Chipotle.

Some customers are once again wary of the chain.

"It's going to take something drastic in order for Chipotle to make a comeback," wrote one person on BuzzFeed News' Facebook post about the breach.

"Another good reason not to eat ah Chipotle...not to mention getting the norovirus," added another.

A few remain loyal.

"Poor Chipotle," wrote one woman on WPTV's Facebook post about the hacking. "Always in the news to sabotage their business. I still love Chipotle."

Sources: Chipotle, Fortune, Eater, CNBC (2), BuzzFeed News/Facebook, WPTV/Facebook / Photo credit: Mr.TinDC/Flickr

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