In the digital age, security means a lot more than a securely locked door. These days, criminals don’t need to break into your house to steal important information like banking info, Social Security numbers, and credit cards. They can break into a computer server where all of these things are stored and swipe up the data for thousands to millions of citizens all at once. The latest incident of this involves mobile telephone company T-Mobile where up to 15 million people may have had their credit information compromised
T-Mobile customers who signed up between September 1 and September 16, 2015 are at risk for credit fraud now. When signing up for a mobile phone, information including banking information, name, date of birth, address, and even a social security number are collected. This information is stored on a computer server, in this case, the server belonged to credit analyst Experian. Experian discovered the breach on September 15 when they found a log of an unauthorized user accessing their database. They have confirmed that their credit database was not accessed, so no credit card or banking information was released, but social security info had been.
While they don’t have any evidence to suggest the information stolen has been used illicitly, consumers should place a fraud alert on their credit accounts. Experian will also provide two years of free credit monitoring and identity protection services to anyone who was affected by this breach. Since detection, they have secured their server, notified all impacted consumers, and notified the FBI to assist with the investigation.
By placing a fraud alert on your account, businesses will ask for proof of identity before issuing credit. Should a potential identity thief use your credit info with a fake name, it will be caught during this security check. Fraud alerts last 90 days and can be renewed. Consumers can also request one free credit report every year from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, which are the three nationwide credit bureaus operating in the US. Another security measure a consumer can enact is a credit freeze. This normally costs $5 per credit bureau, but it is free for a victim of identity theft. Freezing your credit will keep a credit bureau from releasing your information without your permission.