Cyber Attack Across the Pacific Northwest: Electronic Payment Systems of Major Washington Grocery Stores Hacked !

Around 160 Wholesalers & Grocery Stores (URM Stores (mainly), Yoke's Fresh Markets & Rosauers Supermarkets) across the Pacific Northwest (Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington) are reported to be among those whose Electronic Payment Systems were hacked by Cybercriminals, whereby the affected Chain Stores are asking customers to pay with cash or check, after they have been "advised by Law Enforcement Officials and a Financial Institutions" that they may have been the target of a Cyber Attack against its payment processing system.

URM Logo

A third party computer security firm uncovered signs of an attack, and the company says it's cooperating with law enforcement and implementing additional security measures.

Some of their customers are discovering unjustified charges on their cards. From a Lake County Man in Montana, who found $75 in gasoline purchased in Texas, to Donald Frogner of Spokane, Washington, who was stunned to find he had paid for $18 worth of food at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in New Dehli, India.

Frogner said:
“This isn’t a bunch of teenagers hacking in and getting cards. This is a sophisticated effort,” 
in that some of the fraud involves using physical cards at some locations, instead of online fraud. He and his wife also saw more than $1.200 in unauthorized charges based in Florida State.

The common theme seems to be grocery stores that use URM Stores, a Spokane wholesaler, to process electronic payments, according to a Billings Gazette report. URM Stores, in turn, uses First Data Corp. of Atlanta to process its payment transactions. First Data has said it also is investigating the rash of card fraud occurring in Eastern Washington, western Montana and parts of Oregon. Computer Forensic experts also haven’t pinned down when the hack took place, or the method used. URM Stores has said it will continue to search for the source of the data breach that triggered a Sunday meeting with managers of the stores it serves.

It’s uncertain if the data breach occurred at the local store level or at some other point in the network, said URM Stores CEO Ray Sprinkle.

CEO Ray Sprinkle (left)

Until these measures are in place, you should consider paying with cash or check, Ray Sprinkle
wrote in a statement (PDF).Some stores may be able to process your card through a dial-up connection that is not affected by the attack. This process takes a few more minutes at the checkout stand and we ask for your patience.

“This is a ridiculously horrible time for this to happen,” said Yoke’s CEO John Bole on Monday morning. As families stock up on groceries and beverages for Thanksgiving“the timing almost couldn’t be worse for area grocers.“ he said.

Jeff Philipps, CEO of Rosauers, said the 21 stores in his group will offer 10 percent discounts on all purchases made on Monday. “We feel it’s fair because we didn’t tell people ahead of time they’d have to go through this.“ he said.

Spokane Media Federal Credit Union CEO Debie Keesee said that her institution is proactively replacing about 350 credit or debit cards, in order to protect those members from ongoing possible fraud.

On Monday, the company provided a toll-free number (001-877-237-7408) for customers who have questions about what has happened and want to know what steps they can take to protect themselves.

A Secret Service investigation is under way !

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