Customers of the Zaxby's in Okatie might want to keep an eye on their credit-card statements for fraudulent charges.
The Athens-based franchise confirmed the business on Baylor Brook Drive off S.C. 170 and more than 100 other of the chain's restaurants were affected by suspicious computer files that could have resulted in unauthorized use of credit and debit card information.
Zaxby's on Robert Smalls Parkway in Beaufort was not affected, according to the company's website. In all, information from 16 restaurants in the Palmetto State could have been compromised. Restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Virginia have also been named.
Company officials said Friday the issue involves malware files, which could have been used to export credit and debit card numbers. The company says it notified law enforcement of the potential criminal activity and that an investigation hasn't determined whether credit or debit card data was stolen.
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Ted Shook, an Island Packet employee and weekly customer of the Okatie restaurant, said he believes his credit card information was taken from the restaurant at least four times since May.
He pinpointed the restaurant's computers about three months ago, after the fourth incident, because the only time his card had been used during a six-week period was to purchase food there.
"There was too much of a coincidence for that not to be the case," he said Tuesday. "I started using cash there. ... I haven't had any more problems."
About $725 in unauthorized purchases from two of Shook's cards were made in Indianapolis and France, Shook said. He did not report the incidents to law enforcement because the bank and credit card company reimbursed him.
Susan McKinney, owner of the Okatie Zaxby's, said the franchise alerted her to the suspicious files three to six months ago. Since then, the restaurant has replaced hard drives, put up more firewalls and increased other security measures.
"We've taken every extra precaution available to see that we're secure," McKinney said. "We don't believe there's any danger whatsoever now."
Although McKinney said she does not know how many customers were at risk or how long information in the systems was vulnerable, she said Zaxby's Franchise Inc. told her the breach to her restaurant was "minimal."
The company advises patrons to keep a close watch on their financial accounts.
Customers who have been to a restaurant suspected of being hit by the malware can order a free copy of their credit reports by going to annualcreditreport.com, by calling 877-322-8228 or by completing the Annual Credit Report form at consumer.ftc.gov, according to the Zaxby's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.