T-Mobile has announced that personal information on 15 million of its customers has been stolen as a result of a data breach that occurred between September 1, 2013 and September 16, 2015. The stolen information includes names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. This type of information can readily be used by a criminal to steal the identities of the people whose personal information was compromised. Because identity theft can be a devastating crime, this is a major problem if you were a customer of T-Mobile during that time. It is important to note that it was not T-Mobile’s computers that were hacked. Rather it was a server used by the credit reporting agency Experian that was hacked to steal this customer information. T-Mobile used the services of Experian to run credit checks on people applying for T-Mobile services or devices. A number of questions are brought up by this hacking including why Experian continued to store this personal information long after the determination of creditworthiness had been done. Also, there are questions about the encryption program Experian used to protect its data because the encryption proved ineffective.
T-Mobile is offering free credit monitoring services through ProtectMyID to affected customers for two years. However, it should always be noted that credit monitoring does not help prevent identity theft, but merely helps you learn sooner when you do become a victim of identity theft. Somewhat ironically, it should also be noted that ProtectMyID is owned and operated by Experian, the same company responsible for the data breach. For more information about obtaining the free credit monitoring services if you have were affected by this data breach, click on this link which provides instructions from T-Mobile about signing up for the service. http://www.t-mobile.com/landing/experian-data-breach
Meanwhile, everyone should consider putting a credit freeze on their credit reports to actually help prevent identity theft. With a credit freeze in place, an identity theft who has your personal information including your Social Security number will be prevented from accessing your credit report to obtain credit or make purchases in your name. For more information about credit freezes, go to the archives of Scamicide.com and type in “credit freeze.”