Grocery stores urge use of cash or check



SPOKANE — Owners of several grocery store chains are telling customers to consider paying by cash or check while investigators try to secure a computer network that was hacked over the past two months and may have impacted customers in parts of Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington.

The stores include all 12 Yoke’s Fresh Markets and 21 Rosauers stores in the Spokane area, the Spokesman-Review reported.

Yoke’s and Rosauers are two of several grocers whose credit and debit card financial transactions have been vulnerable to a data breach reported in recent weeks by customers of area banks and credit unions, the newspaper reported Monday.

Customers entering the stores on Monday were told they can choose to use a secure but much slower dial-up connection to make card payments. Customers were also told to consider paying in cash or by check.

Yoke’s CEO John Bole said the timing couldn’t be worse as families stock up on groceries for Thanksgiving.

The recommendation to pay by cash or check came from URM Stores, the Spokane-based wholesaler that processes a large share of the electronic payments made by shoppers at Yoke’s, Rosauers, Super 1 Foods, Family Foods, CenterPlace Market, and Trading Co. Stores.

URM Stores, which supplies food and services to smaller grocery stores and chains, has said it is continuing to search for the source of the data breach.

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

“The majority of our stores are at risk,” Sprinkle said.

A large number of consumers who have found unauthorized purchases on their cards have been customers who made card purchases at the stores served by URM, officials said.

URM collects the electronic purchases at its member food stores then transmits the data to First Data Corp., a major processor of payments based in Atlanta.

First Data has said it also is investigating the rash of card fraud.