Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Credit Card Theft and Online Cake Stores

Let me start by saying that Country Kitchen SweetArt isn't the problem as far as they've heard! You all know what I'm talking about...that's right, credit card numbers being stolen from online shopping. This is a major problem for decorators, since a lot of us can't get the supplies we need anywhere other than online.

My credit card number has been stolen a few times in the past ten years, but my business card was never stolen. Not until I ordered from CKproducts wholesale, it hadn't been.

The first time I ordered from them was about a year ago, maybe...My number was stolen about a month later. I went through the aggravation of getting a new card and being unable to order supplies in the meantime. So a couple of months later I ordered from CKproducts again, and once again my number was stolen within the month.

When I saw a post asking about credit card theft after ordering online on a cake forum soon after that, I joined in the conversation. Turns out a lot of people had their numbers stolen after ordering from CKproducts, so I stopped ordering from them. A lot of other people said that they also weren't going to order from them anymore.

Global Sugar Art is also having ongoing problems with credit card numbers being stolen. From what I've heard form people who have spoken with representatives from both GSA and CKproducts, they say that the problem is being taken care of, but just yesterday another of my friends had her number stolen after ordering from GSA.

The problem with discussing this online is that there are two separate companies with "CK" in their names who both sell cake supplies. We all tend to refer to "CK" without clarifying which company we're talking about, which brings the company that's not involved into the conversation unfairly.

I received an email from Leslie from Country Kitchen SA, who asked about the problems I had. I hadn't ordered from them, I'd ordered from CKproducts, which is the wholesaler. I was always under the impression that they were two branches of the same company, but that turns out not to be true. She explained the difference between the two companies:

"Here is the difference between CK Products (CKP) and Country Kitchen SweetArt (CKS) via a short history.
We are two COMPLETELY separate companies. Our grandmother started Country Kitchen in the 60’s as a restaurant. The business evolved into a retail shop in the 70’s. Her son, Orlie and his wife, Kathe, started a wholesale division in the late 70’s. Soon after, they moved the wholesale portion into a separate building and as a separate business, naming it CK Products (still in Fort Wayne, Indiana). Two other brothers, Joe (in Georgia) and Bill (in Pennsylvania) started CK South and CK East. CK South still exists but CK East does not. None of the companies have been connected businesswise or financially, only through family. We added the word “SweetArt” to the name Country Kitchen in 1990, in an attempt to help avoid confusion between us, CK Products, and the Country Kitchen restaurant chain. In 2006 another company, Central Investments, purchased CK Products and CK South. So now we are not connected in any way, not even through family. What makes it confusing is that our names are so similar and we are located in the same city. We were hoping that after Central Investments purchased the companies, there would be less confusion. Unfortunately, it’s still confusing."
 When we discuss this online, and I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, we refer to CKproducts and Country Kitchen SA as "CK." Which isn't good, because the stolen numbers are from CKproducts orders, not from Country Kitchen SA orders. So we're all talking about different companies but thinking that everyone else is referring to the same one we're talking about.
Leslie asks that if anyone has had a problem with stolen numbers that you think is related to their site that you alert them about it. She adds "Our site is password protected, numbers are encoded, and we do everything that we can to protect our customers’ information. We do not keep any paper trail of credit cards (other than the last 4 digits for reference)... It is most helpful to us if customers let us know of suspected issues stemming from our web site because we really do care about and understand the importance of doing what we can to protect our customers. We will take sincere concerns seriously and look into the possibility of any breaches."
So to sum up, the stolen numbers that I've heard of have been from Global Sugar Art and CKproducts wholesale. I posted a specific question online about whether anyone had their number stolen after ordering from Country Kitchen SA and nobody responded. So my assumption is that they're not the problem.
In the meantime, be careful when you shop online. If there's a paypal option use that, because it reduces the exposure that your card number has. If you know that there's a problem, don't give your card number out.

I'm not saying to never shop in these stores again...Just use some common sense.
I did place an order to CKproducts wholesale today, but I figured out my order plus the shipping costs, then I went to the store and bought a disposable credit card to use online. If that number is stolen they'll get a total of about 12 cents available for them to embezzle. The card cost me a $5 fee, but that's a small price to pay to know that my card won't be stolen again.
I recently bought from Global Sugar Art also, but I used their paypal option. You might be able to call and ask if you can send a cashier's check to the company. Call and talk to their customer service, since there could be other options.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't shop online...If I didn't do that I wouldn't be able to get 98% of my supplies. I am saying that if you know there's a problem, be careful. Don't give your card number if there's a high probability that the company you're buying from has security problems. Use paypal, a temporary card, or a disposable credit card number if your bank offers that option. No site is ever going to be 100% secure, so check your credit card bill every month and look for small transactions that you don't recognize. Those are often "test charges" to see if your card is active or not. If that goes through you're going to get hit by a bigger charge the following month.
And let's be specific about whether we're discussing CKproducts wholesale or Country Kitchen SA from now on! I know that I will.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA


Veronica said...

I noticed with my last order at GSA that they mentioned they were only taking Paypal payments right now because of this issue. Thankfully I've never had a problem with either company and the customer service at Country Kitchen is always awesome.

Kate said...

Thanks for posting this. I just had my card number stolen and I was trying to figure out how it it happened(It was new card that I barely used.) Sure enough, I had bought some cake supplies from GSA a few days before the stolen charges started.

Kara Buntin said...

I heard that GSA is now only accepting paypal payments until this gets straightened out. Personally, I wouldn't use my card number at either place again, the fraud is too pervasive. It's Paypal or temporary cards for me!

Dana Gardner said...

I was compromised by GSA twice. Again a huge hassle since they have products I use all the time! I probably won't order for quite a while. Tis the season - my son's bank account was hacked as was my AMEX - good thing AMEX called me within 5 hours of the first suspicious charge.

Liz said...

Thanks for posting. It happened a couple times after ordering from CK products and Papermart. It's very frustrating. I spoke with CK the last time and they were looking into it. Obviously they aren't doing enough. Great idea to use the prepaid card.

Leana said...

Thanks for posting, I know GSA send out in their newsletter regarding the problem and will be up and running with a new security system to prevent this from happening in January. Never fun having someone taking your number and buy stuff on your dime.