MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - An "unauthorized party" breached a dedicated server of one of the three major credit bureaus, compromising the personal information of 15 million T-Mobile customers and potential customers.
Experian, the world's largest consumer credit monitoring company and one of America's three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion) revealed the data breach in an alert on its web site.
"The unauthorized access was in an isolated incident over a limited period of time," Experian said in the alert. "It included access to a server that contained personal information for consumers who applied for T-Mobile USA postpaid services between Sept. 1, 2013 and Sept. 16, 2015."
Those affected include not only postpaid services customers, but also consumers who applied for credit at T-Mobile, but either did not qualify or decided against the wireless service.
Compromised information included names, addresses, Social Security numbers, birth dates and identification numbers, including driver's license numbers, passports and military ID's.
Experian insisted the breach did not compromise its global database of consumer credit reports, but only its server with T-Mobile customer data.
"Experian is notifying the individuals who may have been affected and is offering free credit monitoring and identity resolution services for two years," read Experian's alert.
Faye Carson, credit counselor for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions in East Memphis, said affected consumers should accept Experian's credit monitoring service offer. "As a matter of fact, they could go a step further. They can contact the credit bureaus themselves and put a credit freeze or a fraud alert on their credit reports," Carson said.
A credit freeze includes a minimal fee and would prevent creditors from adding any accounts to your credit reports without your password-initiated permission. A fraud alert is free and will make it more difficult for someone to open accounts in your name.
"A fraud alert stays on your report for only 90 days, and if the issue is not resolved within 90 days, then you can go back and you can extend the alert for up to seven years," said Carson.
You can initiate a fraud alert or credit freeze by contacting just one of the three credit bureaus: Equifax. Equifax will arrange a freeze or alert on each of your three credit reports so that you do not have to contact each of the bureaus.
You can connect directly and safely to each of the credit bureaus and pull one free credit report from each of them every year at www.annualcreditreport.com.