Top Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on the Senate Banking Committee demands that credit agency Experian provide more details about a data breach in which personal information on millions of T-Mobile customers was stolen.
“Protection of this information is of the utmost importance, especially because the scope of the information is vast and virtually no consumer can apply for credit without entering your system,” Brown wrote in a letter sent to Experian today.
Experian said earlier this month hackers had broken into a server containing data on T-Mobile customers. The breach exposed personal information of 15 million customers and possible customers, including Social Security numbers of those who might have applied for T-Mobile cell service between Sept. 1, 2013 and Sept. 16, 2015.
Experian’s main consumer credit database was not broken into, Experian says, and T-Mobile and Experian are providing two years of credit monitoring services and identity theft recovery services for free.
Along with increased disclosure about the breach, Brown also asks Experian to provide “credit freezes” to affected customers for free. Credit freezes allow customers to restrict access to their credit reports in cases of potential identity theft, but typically credit agencies charge for this service. Brown also asked Experian to explain how well its credit monitoring and identity theft protection services work.
Data breaches, identity theft and cyber security have become a priority as more companies have disclosed breaches of their systems. Lawmakers have attempted to legislation to address the issue, including a bill that would require companies to inform their customers about a breach within 30 days of learning about it themselves.
Experian, in a statement, said they had received Brown’s letter, “understand the concerns raised” and will respond accordingly.
WA AG Ferguson urges T-Mobile customers “…to take immediate steps to determine whether you have been a victim of ID theft, and to protect your information going forward,” he said in a statement offering advice to affected consumers.
According to T-Mobile and the credit-reporting company Experian, the breach compromised data that was used by T-Mobile to run credit checks of individuals who applied for T-Mobile services from Sept. 1, 2013, through Sept. 16, 2015. Unauthorized access was gained to Experian’s servers, exposing data including name, address, birthdate, Social Security number, other ID numbers (such as driver’s license, military ID, or passport numbers), and additional information used in T-Mobile’s credit assessment. An estimated 15 million consumers nationwide may have had their data compromised. Experian plans to notify affected consumers.
The Attorney General’s Office offers affected consumers the following advice to guard against identity theft.
- Monitor your credit reports. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 monthsfrom each of the three nationwide credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union). You can request one free report from a different bureau every four months to monitor throughout the year.
- Consider placing a “fraud alert” with each of the three credit bureaus. An alert does not block potential new credit, but places a comment on your history. Creditors should contact you prior to opening a new account.
- Consider placing a “security freeze” with each of the three credit bureaus to prohibit the release of any information from your reports. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft since most businesses will not open credit accounts without checking a consumer’s credit history first. This increases the likelihood that if an ID thief tries to open a new account under your name, they will be denied.
- Beware of unsolicited calls or emails offering credit monitoring or identity theft services. Consumers should never provide their Social Security number, credit card numbers or other personal information in response to unsolicited emails or calls.
If you find unexplained activity on your credit reports, or if you believe you are the victim of identity theft, check these resources for information on steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Review the Attorney General’s ID theft website.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission’s ID theft website.
This entry is republished from an Oct. 9, 2015 blog entry at http://nw-injurylawyers.com/.