Reader Question of the Day: Can I Eat a Dog?

From the reader mailbag marked “Oh My God, Is This Person for Real and Should I Inform the Authorities?” we have a question from a person on the internet who is using what I can only assume is a throwaway email account. Never mind the all important rule of “don’t get legal advice from the internet,” for this guy, we should just skip back to the more elementary rule of “don’t just ask the first question that pops into your head.” All sic, obviously, as well as original all caps format:


I can only assume this question is prompted by the recent news of a New Mexico man, Salvador Martinez, 46, who was arrested after he allegedly killed the family’s 9-month-old black and white chiweenie, named Onyx, with a screwdriver in front of his children, skinned it, and put it in the freezer.

According to a criminal complaint, Martinez freely admitted to deputies he had killed Onyx, explaining that the couple didn’t have enough food for themselves and the grandkids. His girlfriend later told investigators there was plenty of food in the house. Deputies say Martinez told them he then went online to look up dog meat recipes and whether it was legal to eat dogs in New Mexico. According to a criminal complaint, when the girlfriend discovered the slaughtered dog the next day and confronted Martinez she says Martinez told her that if she didn’t like it he would take it over to his mother’s house for a barbecue. White says while it’s legal to eat dogs in New Mexico, the way in which Martinez says he killed Onyx is absolutely illegal. Martinez was arrested and is being charged with extreme animal cruelty, a fourth degree felony, as well as child abuse.“The kids were present inside the residence and had full knowledge of what was taking place with their family pet,” White said.

Why you would go normcore for your mugshot, I don’t know, because those glasses scream “guilty,”  but that’s probably just one of many questions I have for this guy about his life choices:


Hardcore normcore; KQRE photo credit
Hardcore normcore; KQRE photo credit

Someone claiming to be Martinez’s girlfriend said in the comments:

Here are the facts: No children were in the house. I am the EX-girlfriend, we split up last month because of his drinking and I had moved to the other room where I was asleep when he murdered my baby GIRL and dressed her like a deer and put her in the fridge to marinate, where I found her the next day. He had been drinking that day and was mad at the dogs for barking so he murdered Onyx to make an example of her to the other dogs is what he told me. We had food and we raise chickens. He had gone to get a food box on Thursday, the day he murdered her. He went to get another food box the next day and my daughter called the cops while he was gone. They showed up when he got back. He lied to them and told them we had no food. Of course when they looked in the fridge low and behold they found food. I will testify against him as I did not know how he killed her till now. I hate him now for what he did to my sweet baby girl.

Ok, so no kids were in the house, but apparently grandkids were scheduled to come over later (presumably when the girlfriend’s daughter showed up and saw the dog in the freezer and called the cops).

Back to the reader question.

Answer: I don’t know, but I now hate you for making my browser history look like it belongs a crazy psychopath.


Alex Jones Isn’t Saying MOBAMA is Definitely a Man, He’s Just Asking Questions.


Alex Jones, a person who is on radio, tv, and internet, and has THREE MILLION LISTENERS (how is that even possible?), is addressing the hard-hitting questions that no one in their right mind is asking. For instance, is Michelle Obama actually a tranny? 

“Well, Joan Rivers talked about it the other day, and now it’s an international news story,” he said. “The question is, ‘Who is Michelle Obama? Is she really a woman? Is she a man?’”

“Now, I’m not drawing any conclusions here,” Jones continued, “but I know this — it’s fair to question anything and everything this administration says. I can’t think of an administration in history that’s been caught with such a perfect record of everything they say and do being a lie or a fraud.”

See? Not drawing conclusions. Just asking questions. 

He does back up his speculation with hard hitting evidence though: 

  • “…every time I look at ‘Michelle’ or ‘Michael’ Obama, the First Lady, or First Tranny, something doesn’t look right.”
  • “She doesn’t look like any black woman I’ve ever known.”
  • “She’s got shoulders that are wider than a man’s, which physiologically doesn’t happen.”
  • “You can put three heads on a man’s shoulders, and two heads on a woman’s shoulders — that’s a known anatomy.”

HOLD UP THOUGH–there could be a reasonable explanation: KLINEFELTER’S! 

Jones theorizes that Michelle Obama could be suffering from a “chromosomal disorder” caused “by all this toxic waste and GMO that’s been introduced.” He then showed an image of the Wikipedia page for “Klinefelter syndrome, where you are basically part female, part male,” before cutting to an image of a printed-out copy of the same Wikipedia page.

People who have this disorder, Jones said, “look just like ‘Michelle’ Obama.”

Fig. 1. This is the wikipedia picture of an adult male with Klinefelter’s: 



Fig. 2. This is  Michelle Obama. Note the strong resemblance to Fig. 1: 


Two arms? Two legs? A spine? How do you explain that, Michael/Michelle? 

Fig. 3. Whose children are these anyway?!

obama kids

Note: Klinefelter’s only affects males. It’s a chromosomal disorder that gives males an extra X chromosome: XXY instead of XY. But, by adulthood, most XXY males look the same as XY males, although they may be taller and may possibly have gynocomastia. Source: Medicine. 

Don’t worry though, he’s not laughing about it!

“For me,” he continued, “this really isn’t just a laughing matter. It’s not just the sexuality, but the very genetics of the human species across the board is being manipulated.”

After a brief denunciation of political correctness, Jones returned to the topic of state-run sexuality, claiming that Aldous Huxley intended Brave New World to be an instructional manual that his brother, who Jones alleged worked for the United Nations, would use “to end the sexes as we know it, and create biological androids to serve the state.”

“So we can make jokes about ‘Michelle’ Obama having some type of mutation or chromosomal disorder,” he said, “but bottom line, this is affecting all of us, and all of our children.”

You can watch the video here

Alex Jones runs the popular websites and And he’s a complete idiot, who apparently gets his news from Joan Rivers. I can’t believe this person has an audience. 

Sterling Hurls Accusations at “Weird Lawyer” in Court Yesterday

Bert Fields

Law360 reports that Donald Sterling didn’t have a whole lot of nice things to say about his wife’s attorney, Bert Fields, during a probate hearing yesterday. Fields is a well-known entertainment law attorney and has represented The Beatles, John Travolta, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, and on and on. 

When Fields asked Sterling how the billionaire’s revocation of the Sterling Family Trust he shared with his wife would affect his bank loans, Sterling exploded.

“Tell me how that’s relevant if you’re not just being a smart-ass,” Sterling said. “What do my bank loans have to do with this weird lawyer? I’ve never met a lawyer like this before. What did you say your name was?”

At one point, Sterling said Fields made some kind of offer in the hallway, and asked Fields, “Are you trying to perpetrate a fraud on this court?”

Fields retorted that Sterling’s statements were untrue, and Judge Levanas tried to quiet the commotion, telling the parties that any potential settlement negotiations shouldn’t be aired in open court.

Fields then reminded Sterling that he was under oath. Sterling bristled and asked Fields if he was accusing him of something.

“Be a man, for God’s sake,” Sterling said. “Stand up and be a man.”

Uganda Says, “No, You Guyz!!! It’s All Just a Big Misunderstanding!” But It’s So Not a Misunderstanding

In honor of my readers in Uganda (and yes, I have at least one, my Aunt Cheryl, who almost always disagrees with me but reads my blog anyway because that’s what aunts are for), I’m writing about a little legislative whoopsy-daisy in that fair land.

Just to Be Clear: Anti-Homosexuality Bill Does Not Make Uganda Anti-Homosexual

Uganda recently passed the 2014 Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February, but after losing some of that sweet, sweet foreign aid, Ugandan leaders are prepared to clear up a little misunderstanding about the legislation. Which is definitely NOT about discriminating, where would you even get that idea?!

See, the bill applies equally to everyone voluntarily participating in homosexual behavior, not just homosexuals! Equal application, you knuckleheads!

Ugandan leaders said in a statement, “[The law’s] enactment has been misinterpreted as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of a ‘homosexual orientation’, especially by our development partners.”

Oh, crazy! I wonder where the “development partners” would have gotten that idea?

Maybe from the title?

Or, I dunno, maybe the fact that if someone is a “serial offender” of practicing homosexuality they get life in prison (which was already reduced from the death penalty, by the way!). [Ed. I have no idea what Ugandan prison systems are like, but my mind is saying “not good.”].

Or, if you don’t even actually have same sex relations, but you try to, YOU GET SEVEN YEARS IN PRISON.

Or, if you go somewhere that same-sex marriage is legal and get married, you face extradition for a life sentence.

Companies mixed up in these types of shenanigans even face losing their corporate charters.


Straight out of a Kevin Hill movie.

The law does address forcible rape and sex crimes against children, which is great. But, you know, you can still have those and not criminalize consenting behavior amongst adults.

“Uganda reaffirms that no activities of individuals, groups companies or organisations will be affected by the act,” the statement said. WHICH IS COMPLETELY 100% CONTRARY TO THE WORDS IN THE ACT but, still….just a misunderstanding.


I Disapprove of What You Say, But I Will Never Tell You to STFU*.

An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of Plan B, as they say.
An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of Plan B, as they say.

Avid Blogger/Federal Judge Kopf of Nebraska has caused what polite people call “quite the stir” and the rest of us call a “shit storm,” after a post last week on his blog, Hercules and the Umpire, in which he told SCOTUS to “STFU.” If you don’t know what that means…welcome to the internet, I guess? There are online dictionaries out there on the google machine, should you need one.

Kopf is not exactly known for being a wallflower, in the blogging world or in the courtroom, but I can’t recall his blog ever making national news to this extent before.

After he received a letter from someone he admires expressing  OMG! Please stop already  a heartfelt desire for Kopf to hear him with open ears and gently reproaching him, he has decided to go easy on the blogging while he sorts it all out and invited input from others:

While I will make up my own mind, advice (anonymous or otherwise), particularly from experienced lawyers and judges, would be welcome. Some things are more important than others.

So, here is my input.

Dear Judge Kopf,

I am not a particularly experienced judge or lawyer. I am a fairly new lawyer, just ending my fourth year of practice. I am also a law blogger (or “blawger” as today’s obsession with portmanteaus dictates). A fairly irreverent one, at that. Like you, I think it’s important that everyday people see the judicial branch for the collection of imperfect humanity that it is. And, like you, I believe in a frank assessment of this best of all possible judicial systems.

I am not a new reader of your blog. I have been a sometime reader for a while. Even when I disagree with you, I have enjoyed your frankness and enthusiasm. Even when I am shocked by you, I love that your writing is fodder for conversation, not for the dusty bedside drawer.

Those familiar with my blog know that I have no problem with speaking freely. I am blunt and I have even been known to publicly chastise judges in my state for doing things that I deemed below the dignity of the robe (not exactly the safest possible practice, but it really does mean that much to me).

In short, I feel as the hip hop artist Kanye West once sang, “I hear your lyrics, I feel your spirit….

I read the anonymous letter that you posted from a trusted colleague, who urges you to stop blogging. I disagree that you should stop blogging; however, I would urge you to practice safe blogging methods and not to tell the Supreme Court to “stfu,” as the kids say. Blogging truthers (“bluthers”), like you and I, must be careful when exposing the soft underbelly of the Rule of Law that we do not give the appearance of being dismissive. Being dismissive is very different from being in disagreement. Disagreement says, “I’ve listened to you and you are wrong.” Being dismissive says, “Be quiet, honey, the menfolk are talking.”

We can express our sentiment that SCOTUS is currently behaving as a field team of Don Quixotes, tilting at windmills, while we, the ever suffering Sancho Panzas, roll our eyes to the heavens and pray that the Good Lord show them the light. But, we must still listen to the things the Quixotes say, when or if they decide to say them.

There is a wave of anti-government dissent sweeping this country right now. People who feel that the power of the government, and particularly the federal government, should be declared impotent. Let’s not fan that fire. 

I think, from my rather small volume of experience, that most litigants can handle a ruling against them from a judge, if that judge has listened and carefully considered their perspective. I do not think that most people can handle being summarily dismissed. Similarly, judges want litigants to fully consider the opinion rendered against them without simply dismissing it as unfair. 

I know that your point about the Hobby Lobby ruling was simply that SCOTUS, like the employees of Hobby Lobby, should practice abstinence when possible, but that is not the message in the headlines. In blogging and bedroom activities, one can be expected to anticipate the reasonable consequences of one’s actions, no?

Saying “stfu” is not only discourteous, it appears dismissive. Much like another child, that’s something that we simply can’t afford right now. 

I hope that you will continue blogging. I hope that you will continue to be interesting. And I hope that you will set an example of how to come back from an emergency blogging screw up, because I may need it someday. 



*Unless you are Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. You can both STFU, because you have lost the privilege to be listened to. That’s on you, though. 

Down the Devil’s Tobaggan Slide We Go!

The Upcoming Booze Ballot

Unless I remember to buy my booze Monday through Saturday, the guvmint says I can’t make my Guiness Stew on Sunday. Why does the guvmint hate my Guiness stew (recipe included below)? I can buy my booze M-Sat. because I live in Pulaski County, but what if I lived in Cleburne county? Nope. And none of the counties surrounding Cleburne sell alcohol either.

But, that could all change soon with a new ballot proposal by attorney David Couch (LR) to amend the Arkansas constitution, which would allow the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages everywhere in Arkansas. That means no more local dry jurisdictions. Instead, regulation would be left to the legislature (who couldn’t prohibit it).

The Log Cabin reports that Let Arkansas Decide, the committee behind the statewide “wet” ballot initiative, has turned in almost 85,000 signatures. To put the constitutional amendment that would end “dry” counties in Arkansas to the voters on the November ballot, at least 78,133 of the signatures have to be verified.

Those Against:

  1. The usual religious suspects leftover from 1953.
  2. Maybe beer distributors because limits the amount of stops they have to make. Make the customers go to the wet counties means fewer drop offs.
  3. Liquor store owners (Sunday sales). You get a day off and no competitors steal your sales. Same purchase volume in 6 days as there would be in 7.

Pushing For the Ballot Proposal:

The retail industry, particularly Wal-Mart.

Tipsy  Timeline:

  • 1836 Arkansas obtains Statehood.
  • 1837 Arkansas bans all business on Sundays, which is known as a “Blue Law.”
  • 1920 Prohibition begins
  • 1933 Prohibition ends
  • 1982 I was born. Also, the Blue Law was repealed, but the Code still provided that a city board or council could regulate the operation of businesses within their city on Sunday.
  • 1987 Arkansas passed laws about selling alcohol on Sundays statewide.

So here we are: it’s the Year of Our Lord 2014 and you can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a wet county:

  1. On a Sunday, unless your county/city has voted to allow it, and then only from 10:00am to midnight.
  2. On a weekday between 1:00 am and 7:00 am.

You can’t buy alcohol from a liquor store in a dry county at all.

Restaurant Rules

Restaurants can serve alcohol on Sundays in most cases, and some microbreweries are allowed to sell growlers. Alcohol is not sold on Christmas Day in Arkansas. Arkansas has a tiered alcohol licensing system. Class A licenses allow alcohol service from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Class B licenses allow alcohol service from 10 a.m. until 5 a.m. A restaurant license allows alcohol service until 1 a.m.

Dry County v. Dry City

Arkansas has 75 counties, and about half are dry.

A city can elect to go dry in a wet county, but  it can’t elect to go wet in a dry county. This is even more complicated if the county has two county seats, where one district may elect to go wet and the other dry (like Sebastian and Logan Counties).

HOW DRY WE ARE: Shaded counties are 'wet.'


Insane Clown Posse Opinion is Magic: Let’s See How it Works


Isn’t there just something wonderfully funny about serious legal opinions covering pop culture? It’s even better when it involves Juggalos.

Plaintiffs are a group of Juggalos who are not very happy that the DOJ and the FBI labeled them as a “hybrid gang.” The actual opinion (cite below) goes into detail about how the FBI/DOJ came up with this determination, if you’re interested in reading more. Plaintiff-Juggalos claim that the use of the term “hybrid-ganag” infringes on their First Amendment rights to free association and expression and also their Fifth Amendment due process rights as an arbitrary and capricious state action.

The opinion was written by Judge Robert Cleland, who graduated from law school more than forty years ago and writes a coherent legal opinion, which leads me to believe that he is most likely not a Juggalo. .

“What is a Juggalo?” the opinion asks.

“Apparently they are fans of the musical group Insane Clown Posse (“ICP”)!” the opinion replies to itself, slyly chuckling out the side of its mouth, pipe expertly held in place by experienced muscles. “You know the ones, they often paint their faces to look like clowns, and wear distinctive symbols, including the ‘hatchetman’ logo, which depicts a person with wild hair running with a butcher cleaver in his or her hand.”

Kids these days!

“Many Juggalos embrace ‘Juggaloism’ as a philosophy, an identity, [and] a way of life. ICP’s principal members are Plaintiffs Joseph Bruce and Joseph Utsler, who go by the stage names ‘Violent J’ and ‘Shaggy 2 Dope,’ respectively.”

Oh, well, I’m quite fond of philosophy. Made A levels back at Oxford, you know. But what kind of music is it, you say?

“Some of ICP’s music contains hopeful, life-affirming themes about the wonders of life,” other songs fall into the genre of “horrorcore hip hop” which “uses very harsh language to tell nightmare-like stories with an underlying message that horrible things happen to people who choose evil over good.”

Some of it is just plain batty:

Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed.

– Insane Clown Posse, Miracles (2009)

The philosophy is essentially akin to a “Dark Carnival” wherein these youngsters attempt to live by the “moral code of the Carnival and see themselves as social outcasts, striving for acceptance. They view each other as a ‘family,'” presumably lacking no decent family of their own, but they seem quite certain that organized crime is not a family value.

But enough tales of carnies and their persecution complexes. What we need to figure out is whether or not these Juggleheads are criminals organized to the degree that it’s fair to call them a gang. Capital idea, what? Yes, quite right. Let me adjust my monocle and we shall take a look.

The court notes that the Juggle-Hoes are not cut from the criminal mastermind cloth. They also appear to be related to gypsies, with the way they gad all about and all, which doesn’t quite seem germane to the discussion, but it’s there anyway. It also appears some of our constabulary have been giving these Jugglehighs the what-for, when not entirely called for. For instance, a young master Bradley was detained for no reason other than some fine ink drawings of clowns on his person. Young master Gandy was told he was not fit for service due to his gang inkings of clowns. He then spent lots of bullion having them drawn over, but it was to no use, I’m afraid.

Unfortuantely, the Court decided to dismiss the case brought by the Juggalos for lack of standing.  Still, it is a shame they had to cancel their Hallowicked Tour.


Parsons v. U.S. Dept. of Justice
Slip Copy, 2014 WL 2931419
June 30, 2014 (Approx. 5 pages)


US Caught Off Guard by Canadians Throwing Major Shade at Spam on Canada Day

Canadians are spam haterz.

Canada: I’ma change your life, I’ma change it.

USA: I don’t think so.

Canada: No for real, we’re implementing an anti-spam law tomorrow that’s going to help you guys ooot too, eh!*

USA: Hell yeah! God Save the Queen or something!**




Canada: Typical.

USA: Take back Beiber and we will stop taking credit for at least 50% of the things you do.

Canada: No dice. We don’t really care that much.

And scene.

*No, I’m not appropriating Canadian or US culture. I’m a dual citizen, so I get to talk smack about all the Americas north of Mexico, thank you very much.

**I have an embarrassing story about Canada Day: I went to college in Canada for a year. I found myself dating a city director on Canada Day and somehow ended up on the stage in front of an entire town trying to sing “Oh Canada!” but, having spent most of my life in Europe and the U.S. (I’ve lived in Canada a total of 3 years), I didn’t know the words. I resorted to the old “watermelon cantaloupe” trick that was probably very unconvincing. I learned the words to Oh Canada! immediately after that and promptly forgot them upon returning to the U.S.

Back on point. 

So, tomorrow Canada has a really tough new anti-spam law going into effect (C-28; Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Bill). As the U.S. is want to do, we haven’t really paid a lot of attention to Canadian laws, so we are little unprepared. The good news is that your gmail spam folder may no longer have 10,000+ emails every six months.


Under the new measure, which is commonly referred to as Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, companies that send commercial electronic messages to or from a computer located in the country will be bound to a set of stringent notice and consent requirements that generally prohibit the transmission of a wide range of electronic communications, unless a user has expressly agreed to receiving the message. If they fail to comply, they can be hit with regulatory fines of up to $10,000 per violation.

Per violation. Although, they will be apologetic about enforcing it.

Can you imagine what kind of fees CanadianPharmacies4U would rack up if this were in place now? This could easily bankrupt companies that violate it. Despite the law’s expansive reach and substantial risks, attorneys say that many U.S. companies and some Canadian companies are either unaware of or just now scrambling to comply before tomorrow.  If I were giving them advice, it would be to just not send any spam. At all, for like a really long time, until we really figure it all out. Which will be never. I think this is soooond advice, eh?.

The effect of the legislation will be felt well beyond Canada, given that a range of companies that have clients or operations in Canada are likely to be sending communications that fall within the statute’s broad definition of covered messages, which is crafted to encompass any type of encouragement of commercial activity, whether it is explicit or only hinted at, eh?

Impromptu Review of a Teevee Show I Watched Last Night

Also, speaking of things that remind me of Canada, Mapletown is the name of the town on The Leftovers, or something like that, which I watched last night. It’s also the name of a TV show that I watched as a kid that involved anthropomorphic woodland creatures. The show has a really good soundtrack on that show, some Amon Tobin with a good drop at the beginning and really haunting music throughout the entire show. It also has a super freaky Heaven’s Gate like cult and some messed up stuff going on with the teenagers. Obviously, my film as literature class is paying off here…so…

In honor of Canada Day, which is tomorrow, I will continue my tradition of leaving a bottle of Maple syrup on my doorstep so that Celine Dion doesn’t come down my chimney and serenade me.

tl; dr 

Canada is fixing a lot of our email spam problems.  We’re like:

cat shaq

Yes, I will find a way to use this gif every chance I can.

Also, here are the lyrics to Canada Day, in case you feel compelled to learn them. In English et en Francais.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

ABA: Social Media Stalking A-OK

The ABA says that there are no ethical issues with scouring social media sites for information about potential jurors (or even jurors in deliberation. The opinion compares this information to any other publicly available information. LinkedIn is also declared free game, contrary to an earlier New York Bar Association.

Some attorneys have said they still won’t do Linked In searches, because it notifies the juror that their profile has been viewed by the attorney and it may make them feel uncomfortable about serving. Note that you still shouldn’t add the jurors as a friend and you shouldn’t follow them or “otherwise invade their private Internet areas.”

P.F. Chang’s Serves Up Delicious Lettuce Wraps and Your Credit Card Number

A recently discovered credit card breach at P.F. Chang’s may actually predate the much discussed Target, Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, and Sally’s Beauty Supply security breaches, which occurred beginning last November.

On June 11, 2014, a potential breach alert was issued by various payment processing systems, stating that P.F. Chang’s had learned of the potential breach the day before. I get these alerts through a payment processing alert subscription service. (My June 11 alert stated that no CAMS alert had been issued at that time, but please see the “What everyone else is saying” section below to read an update on that). That breach was confirmed by P.F. Chang’s on June 12, 2014.

P.F. Chang’s website is fairly sparse on information, but I’ve boiled down what is there below, followed by the answers to some of the questions that I asked of their representative, information currently available from industry experts, and some of my thoughts on possible preventative actions.

According to P.F. Chang’s:

  1. Both credit card and debit card data was stolen from “some” of their restaurants.
  2. As soon as they were alerted, they began an investigation with the United States Secret Service (fun fact: the Secret Service is a law enforcement agency created in 1865 to counteract the counterfeiting of money).
  3. P.F. Chang’s learned of the breach on June 10, 2014.
  4. They moved to manual imprinting in order to prevent further exposure.
    This doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Many cards are flat and can’t be imprinted. Plus, a dial-up line is not better than using SSL Internet for a terminal.
  5. They do not yet know which credit or debit cards may be involved.
  6. Their only recommended course of action is to monitor your accounts and to report any suspected fraudulent activity to your card company.

I called the P.F. Chang’s extra assistance hotline with the following questions:

  1. Did the breach affect payments made online as well as in-store? They said they did not yet know the answer to that.
  2. Did the breach affect Pei Wei? Pei Wei is a U.S. fast-casual chain owned and operated by P.F. Chang’s. First, the person I talked to said that he thought that it did, but when he read the “official script,” I basically got the “currently under investigation” spiel. But, Krebs on Security spoke with the P.F. Chang’s spokesperson, who said that there were not any indications that the breach extended to Pei Wei.
  3. Should I replace my credit card? They didn’t have a clear answer on this either, although I was directed to call my bank and ask them for their recommendation.
    Note: replacing credit cards is very expensive for issuing banks. In the Target case, replacement is estimated at $10-$12 per card!

Also, they were quite insistent on getting my name, even though I declined providing my contact information because I get enough alerts on this as it is.

Here’s the stuff everyone else is saying:

  1. A CAMS alert was issued June 17 by Visa, which stated that the breach in question ran from September 18, 2013 through June 11, 2014. A CAMS alert is the alert that card associations (Visa, MC, etc.) send to the banks that issue their cards. A CAMS alert actually includes the specific card numbers thought to have been breached. These alerts do not usually name who the victim of the breach is (so it doesn’t actually say P.F. Chang’s) but it is pretty obvious who they are talking about, given the timing.
  2. There is not a known number of cards affected, but a conservative estimate would be around 7 million cards.
  3. The move to “knuckle busters” at every location may indicate that the breach was at all 211 locations; however, I think it could just as easily be a preventative move.
  4. The breach likely occurred at the point of sale (POS) terminals. This is also the case in the Target breach.
  5. The good news for issuing banks and consumers is that this breach may not require that cards be replaced, because many were already replaced as a result of the Target, etc. breaches. (Although that’s not confirmed yet).

Possible preventative measures for the future:

First, nothing I’m saying below is something that major retailers haven’t known about for a long time. For them, it’s simply a cost-benefit decision. T.J. Maxx is one of the earliest security breaches of a major retailer. A lawsuit in that instance brought about a $40 million settlement. Using that as a guidepost, large retailers simply figure potential breaches into the cost of doing business.

  1. Regularly changing the passwords on the systems that run the POS terminals. This shortens the window of time available for security breaches to occur, reducing the number of cards accessed. Obviously not a foolproof plan, because a hacker could install a backdoor, but a good practice nonetheless.
  2. Using chip and pin cards instead of magnetic cards. The plan is to move all Visa and Mastercards to this by 2015, but it hasn’t been done yet because of the cost of changing the POS terminals. This infrastructure change would cost criminals much more to get access to card numbers (and to forge cards), but is not foolproof.
  3. Tougher sanctions on merchants who allow their systems to be compromised and are found in violation of the PCI security standards. Merchants obviously object, but I think they need to bear some of the responsibility.

So, that’s the P.F. Chang’s breach in brief. You can watch their website for additional info, or sign up to get email alerts by calling 1-877-412-7152.