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Rest­aurants lose big in credit card theft

Expert says credit fraud leads to millions in losses

SAN ANTONIO - More than ever in our digital age, it's a swipe of card to take care of a restaurant bill. But with our collective embrace of technology comes increased opportunities for thieves.

Computer expert Ed Rincon, owner of Stack Systems, said a simple computer virus planted in a restaurant's network can collect card numbers as they come in.

"They've gained access to your system, gained access to customer credit card data, and that's all critical," said Rincon.

Rincon said that for every credit card number that gets stolen, restaurants can lose up to $350. Multiple that by the up to 40,000 numbers stolen in an average breach, and the losses for restaurants can be staggering.

Local restaurateur Louis Barrios said his company is well aware of the threat, and it's the reason he's installed a top-of-the-line security system. He freely admitted it cost him a lot, but said customer safety is paramount to any good business.

"We have to be thinking ahead, and we have to anticipate what could happen and that's one of the ways we do it," said Barrios.

Aside from hurting his bottom line, Barrios said any theft could hurt his and his company's reputations. In a business that thrives off word of mouth, he used an old saying to clarify.

"If you have a good experience at a restaurant, you might tell one person," said Barrios. "But if you have a bad experience, you may tell ten."


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