Starbucks is a great place to get a delicious drink or a tasty pastry. But if you have a Starbucks registered account, are you at risk of having it hacked?
Mine was. Yours may be, too.
A popular gift to give a piano teacher, apparently, is a Starbucks card, and I’ve received several. One of the cards urged me to go online and register it, thereby becoming eligible to earn “stars” by making Starbucks purchases. It was tempting: I could earn free drinks, a drink on my birthday, and more! No more incentive needed — I signed up.
Each time I got a new Starbucks card, I added its numbers to my account. It was handy. And if I wanted to, I could move the balances from each card to a single card, so I had less to carry around.
Lest you think I head to Starbucks once a week or even more often, I don’t. I don’t even like coffee, and honestly pretty much the only time I go there is if a friend suggests it, or if a meeting is held there. Such happened last week. I thought, Yay, a chance to use some of that big Starbucks balance I have on my card!
So, I handed the cashier my card. She informed me that the balance was … zero!
What? I knew I had a balance on that card! Quite a hefty balance, in fact.
Once I got home, I tried logging into my Starbucks account. I couldn’t. I requested a new password, but when I did get in, I didn’t see my large balance. I didn’t see any balance at all, on any of my cards.
I called up Starbucks (1-800-782-7282) and the nice lady on the phone got into my account. She confirmed that I indeed had no balance on any of my cards, and that all the money appeared to have been redeemed almost two months prior.
WHAT? I told her that the only time I’d even visited a Starbucks that year had been four months prior. She saw that transaction. She also saw that my active card had over $100 on it, until that day a few months ago when the entire balance was redeemed. She offered to try to move that balance to a new card, but the computer system “had a glitch” and she couldn’t. She told me to call back later.
That wasn’t too encouraging.
Starbucks – Hacked
I returned to the computer and a quick search revealed that Starbucks, indeed, has an issue with people hacking into accounts and draining the balance from cards. This article lays it out well. And while this article mentions hackers exploiting the Starbucks app, hacking happened in my case through my Starbucks online account (I don’t have the app).
I called Starbucks again, this time talking to another lady who again confirmed that I had no money on any card currently, although just a few months ago I’d had $104. She also told me that my email address was no longer the email associated with my Starbucks account. Hmmm. I only have one email address.
It’s my guess that a hacker got into my Starbucks account, changed the email address on it, and then drained my balance. The second Starbucks rep I talked to again offered to put the $104 onto a new card, which she said will arrive here in a week or two. When I told her about the article I’d read and asked if this hacking problem was a known issue, she didn’t say, but just advised me to change my password.
So, while my story has (hopefully) ended happily, I’m not too impressed with the way Starbucks handled it. This is apparently happening to many people, yet I had received no warning from Starbucks. It makes me angry as well at the bad guys stealing innocent peoples’ money, and then obligating Starbucks to pay up again when the problem is recognized. Most likely, many people will never notice and the thieves will have gotten away with it.
As for me, I chose a killer-long password that I’ll likely lose track of, but I’m not sure I want to register my latest Starbucks card anyway. Since this all went down, the risk seems a little too great. I agree with the article above’s contention that Starbucks could do more to prevent this problem, and am dismayed at the company’s apparent blind eye to the issue.
Has your Starbucks account been hacked?
Has your Starbucks card or Starbucks account been hacked? How did your story end up?