T-Mobile recently confirmed that a threat actor stole the full names and driver’s license information for 40 million people last week. While AT&T is currently denying it, another Threat Actor claims to have stolen the names, phone numbers, physical addresses, email addresses, and Social Security numbers for 70 million of their customers.
Ransomware makes the news because it shuts down hospitals, utilities, or other companies who’s systems are locked up, but these “grab the data and go” thefts, while not shutting down the corporations who lose this data, expose all of us who do business with these companies. The Threat Actors are offering both sets of data for sale on the dark web – others can buy the whole lot of information or can buy pieces of it for a smaller price. Days after the T-Mobile hack, a friend of mine who has T-Mobile had a fraudulent credit card created under her name. She caught this because she checked her credit report after she heard about T-Mobile and saw the new account. Not everyone does this.
I’d like to tell you what I told her, and what I’ve told the rest of my family. Thefts of this type will continue. This is T-Mobile’s 5th such hack. But they aren’t the only company to have large data breaches. Yahoo exposed 3 billion client records in 2017. First American Financial lost 885 million personal records for users in 2019. LinkedIn had 700 million in 2021, Facebook 533 million in 2019, Equifax 148 million….and the list goes on. While not all of these exposures put you at financial risk, many do – or they give the person with the information the ability to fool you or family members into providing information that puts you at risk.
I don’t have a silver bullet that will keep you safe. But I am encouraging you to FREEZE YOUR CREDIT if you don’t currently do so. Every one of the major Credit bureaus – Experian, Transunion, Equifax – give you an easy way to do this for free. I’m including the links to do this at the bottom of the article, along with a link to CreditWise from CapitalOne that will let you check on your credit rating as well as credit activity for free, even if not a CapitalOne member.
Freezing your credit means that no one can open new accounts against your name – period. It still allows anyone currently doing business with you, or required by law, to review your credit history, (e.g. send you new offers for reduced rates on a current card, or raise your credit limit, or check on your income for child support, etc). You also have the ability to quickly unfreeze your credit if you want to do new business (e.g. buy a car, open a new credit card). Bottom line, it puts you in control.
I’m a T-Mobile user, and while I’m not happy that data was stolen, I’m also not wondering if someone will open up a credit card in my name, or buy something expensive, etc. My credit is frozen. I am in control – are you?
Freeze Your Credit on Experian
Freeze Your Credit on TransUnion
Freeze Your Credit on Equifax
Monitor Your Credit on CreditWise
Be Safe. Be Secure.