What You Should Know About the T-Mobile, Experian Hack
A hack of Experian’s servers has affected approximately 15 million T-Mobile customers. Here’s what those users should know about the data breach.

It All Starts With Experian
The hack actually originated at Experian, the credit-monitoring company that provides everything from credit reports to organizations to services that allow users to track identity theft. For now, Experian said that it’s still investigating the matter, but it can confirm that its servers were hacked and accessed. It’s unknown who is behind the attacks.

How Does T-Mobile Get Involved?
So, how did this get back to T-Mobile? It’s simple: T-Mobile uses Experian for its credit checks on new customers. Whenever a person sets up a new financing account, T-Mobile sends their personal information through Experian’s servers to determine their risk level in being able to pay their bills. That’s why T-Mobile customer data was available in the Experian hack.

What Exactly Was Stolen?
The sheer amount of data stolen is staggering. According to both Experian and T-Mobile, just about anything that a company would need from a person for a credit check was stolen, including names, Social Security numbers, home addresses, birthdates and other vital information that a hacker could use to wreak havoc on another person’s life.

Who Was Affected?
According to T-Mobile, approximately 15 million of its customers were affected by the breach, including those who applied through the company’s device financing between September 2013 and September 16, 2015. That means customer data collected over a period of two years is at risk.

What Wasn’t Stolen?
While the items that were stolen are scary enough, T-Mobile was quick to point out that credit card numbers and bank accounts were not accessed as part of the breach. T-Mobile also said that its own systems were not compromised.

So Far, So Good, According to the Companies
So far, the hackers who stole the personally identifiable information have not used it, according to both Experian and T-Mobile. That’s good news for those who have been hacked, but it doesn’t mean everything is forgotten. Quite the contrary, the hackers may be biding their time and looking to sell the information on the black market.

No Further Breaches Are Expected
Experian claims that the loophole that the hackers used to access its data has been closed and user information is safe. Of course, as recent data breaches have shown, companies are sometimes wrong about the extent of the hacks and it’s possible more people may get caught up in this mess. For now, though, Experian doesn’t expect others to be affected.

Consumers Are Urged to Keep Close Tabs on Credit Reports
The chances of identity theft are still high for those who have been affected, so it’s important that all customers keep an eye on their credit reports, according to Experian and T-Mobile. The companies are urging their customers to keep close tabs on their credit reports to see if hackers are using their personal information to open new credit cards or bank accounts. After all, with the information they have, they can effectively do whatever they want.

Free Credit Monitoring and Identity Protection Are Available
As part of their efforts to make things right for customers affected by the breach, T-Mobile and Experian are offering two years of free credit monitoring. In addition, they are paying for two years of identity resolution services through Protect My ID. While that may not be enough to satisfy those who have been affected, it’s better than nothing.

Expect T-Mobile to Ditch Its Experian Relationship
T-Mobile CEO John Legere has made clear that he’s extremely upset with Experian and said on his Twitter account that he’s evaluating all options. Considering how troubling the situation is, look for T-Mobile to sever ties with Experian and move on to another provider in short order.

T-Mobile, one of the smaller carriers among the “big four” in the U.S., has been hacked. T-Mobile said in a statement on Oct. 1 that after credit-monitoring company Experian’s data was breached, hackers were able to secure the private information of millions of its customers. T-Mobile CEO John Legere said he’s “incredibly angry” about the breach and will do what he can to make it right. Regardless, the hack illustrates the significant issues companies face in trying to keep sensitive data safe. While they may have the best intentions and even outstanding security, there are weak links at every turn. And as soon as one of those links is broken, anything can happen. For T-Mobile, the weak link was Experian. And in an unfortunate turn of events, millions of people are now left wondering who has their private information and how that might be used right now. This slide show offers more insight into the T-Mobile/Experian hack the breach, providing information that T-Mobile customers across the U.S. should know.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis’ Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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