If you are a current, previous or prospective customer of T-Mobile, your personal information may have been included in a massive theft affecting more than 40 million records and announced by the company on Tuesday, Aug. 17.
In a statement on its website (www.t-mobile.com) the company explained:
“Some of the data accessed did include customers’ first and last names, date of birth, SSN, and driver’s license/ID information for a subset of current and former postpay customers and prospective T-Mobile customers.”
So if you think your information was stolen, here’s what to do:
- Contact the three credit bureaus by phone (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) immediately to place a security freeze on your credit report. Do not place the freeze online because it will require you to give your social security number over the internet. There is no charge to place or lift the security freeze.
If you place a security freeze on your credit report, your credit information is literally “frozen” and can’t be used to open a new account. Anyone who has your social security number or other information who tries to use it to open an account will not be able to do so. The credit bureaus will give you a PIN that you can use to lift or re-freeze your credit report so that legitimate creditors can have your information when they need it.
To place a security freeze on your credit reports, call:
Transunion – 1-888-909-8872
Experian – 1-888-397-3742
Equifax – 1-800-685-1111
- Wait about 60 days to order a copy of your credit report from the officially recognized provider for your free credit reports:
Annual Credit Report.com 1-877-322-8228
Check the reports carefully for any accounts you don’t recognize and call the credit bureau to dispute the information. It takes about two months for new account/billing problems to show on your report which is why you should wait 60 days before calling.
Please, due to the concern about revealing your social security number over the internet, do not order your credit reports online.
- What about free credit monitoring offered by T-Mobile?
These services do not protect you from fraudulent use of your existing credit card number to make purchases or income tax identity theft which is now the fastest growing type of identity theft.
If you have been offered free credit monitoring services, please stay vigilant – Do not assume the service will catch and stop all types of identity theft.
Ask the monitoring service how many credit bureaus are being monitored. Some credit monitoring includes only one credit bureau, rather than all three. This may mean information from the other two credit bureaus is not seen immediately by the credit monitoring company.
It may take 30 days or longer before the credit monitoring service learns about an attempt to use your information. In the meantime, thieves might be able to use your stolen information to obtain credit and establish accounts in your name.
And if the monitoring only includes one credit bureau, you should still place security freezes on your credit report at the other credit bureaus. If you must choose between security freezes or credit monitoring, choose a security freeze – they’re much more secure.
And if you discover that someone has used your information to open new accounts or make fraudulent charges to your credit card? Call your local police, file a report and get a copy of the police report. You can send a copy of this information to creditors to dispute the charges or accounts. For identity theft victims living in Maine, police are required by law to take your report and provide you with a copy.
Jane Carpenter is a member of the FBI InfraGard organization, a veteran of the Maine Attorney General’s Office and author of terrorism prevention materials and training for law enforcement.