Attorney General Kamala D. Harris is urging California T-Mobile customers to immediately place fraud alerts on their credit records in the wake of the massive breach of T-Mobile customer data housed at Experian, one of the nation’s major credit reporting agencies. Placing a fraud alert on your credit records protects consumers from identity theft by requiring that businesses verify your identity before issuing credit.
Up to 15 million T-Mobile customers’ Social Security numbers, names, addresses, dates of birth, and identification numbers (such as driver’s license, military ID or passport number) were exposed in the cyber attack on Experian. According to Experian, the breach compromised data that was used by T-Mobile in connection with credit checks of individuals who applied for T-Mobile services from September 1, 2013 through September 16, 2015. In the wrong hands, it could be used for identity theft, particularly “new account fraud,” or opening up new accounts in the victim’s name.
Unlike credit monitoring, which notifies individuals when activity has occurred on their credit records, a fraud alert is a preventive measure. When a fraud alert is in place, a merchant or other credit issuer checking the credit history of someone applying for credit gets a notice that there is a fraud alert. This alerts the merchant to take extra steps to verify the identity of the applicant. A fraud alert lasts 90 days and can be renewed.
A longer-lasting protection is a security freeze, which prevents the opening of new credit accounts unless the consumer has taken steps to temporarily lift the freeze. A freeze costs $10 per credit bureau or $5 for Californians over 65; it is free to victims of identity theft. For instructions on how to place a freeze on your account, please see “How to ‘Freeze’ Your Credit Files: Tips for Consumers” under “Helpful Links” below.
You can place a fraud alert with all three major credit bureaus by calling just one of the toll-free fraud numbers below. You will reach an automated telephone system that allows you to flag your file with an alert at all three bureaus. You will also be sent instructions on how to get a free copy of your report from each of the credit bureaus.
T-Mobile Breach Notice: https://oag.ca.gov/ecrime/databreach/reports/sb24-58079
For additional information on “Breach Help: Consumer Tips from the California Attorney General”, visit: http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/privacy/cis-17-breach-help.pdf
For additional information on “How to ‘Freeze” Your Credit Files: Tips for Consumers”, visit: http://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/idtheft/cis_10_credit_freeze_doj.pdf