By Matthew Gaude & Shawn McGuire
Are you a T-Mobile customer? If so, your data may be at risk. On August 16, 2021, T-Mobile announced a major breach that has compromised the information of over 54 million people. Exposed customers are at greater risk of identity theft and fraud. If you are a past or present T-Mobile customer, this pertains to you.
Here’s what you need to know.
What Is the T-Mobile Hack?
It’s been a rough few weeks for T-Mobile customers. First came the news that hackers had stolen the personal information of almost 50 million current users. Then, T-Mobile announced in an update a further 5 million current accounts had information on their names, birthdays, phone numbers, and addresses exposed.
The victims include current postpaid T-Mobile customers, former customers, and prospective customers.
Why Does This Matter for Me?
Hackers may attempt to sell your personal information to other digital criminals. Since stealing the data, the hackers have tried selling the information online for $80,000-$270,000 bitcoin.
Criminals can use your data to create fraudulent accounts, such as opening bank accounts or taking loans out under another’s name. As a victim of the data breach, you are at greater risk for identity theft. These fraudulent activities also put your credit score at risk.
The hackers might also be able to take over your phone by engaging in SIM swapping attacks. When this happens, the criminal clones your phone into another device. They can then take over your number. This way they can reset any passwords you have, and break through any security measures tied to your phone to access more accounts, such as your email, banks, and other personal accounts.
What Data Has Been Compromised?
The stolen data varies across different groups of T-Mobile customers. For postpaid and prospective customers, the records include:
- Date of birth
- Social Security number
- Driver’s license information
For about 850,000 prepaid customers, hackers have accessed the following information:
- Phone number
- Account PIN codes
3 Steps You Should Take Now to Protect Yourself-Whether You Are a T-Mobile Customer or Not!
1. You need to review your credit reports. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com and request a copy of your credit report. Federal law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from all 3 national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). You can order free reports at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year. Because each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in your report from one credit bureau may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two credit bureaus.
Getting your credit report can help protect your credit history from mistakes, errors, or signs of identity theft. Check to be sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. Consider doing this at least once a year. If you find mistakes on your credit report, contact the credit bureaus and the business that supplied the information to get the mistakes removed from your report.
Check to help spot identity theft. Mistakes on your credit report might be a sign of identity theft. Once identity thieves steal your personal information — information like, your name, date of birth, address, credit card or bank account, Social Security, or medical insurance account numbers — they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, get new credit cards in your name, open a phone, cable, or other utility account in your name, steal your tax refund, use your health insurance to get medical care, or pretend to be you if they are arrested.
2. Change your password and PIN. No matter the carrier of your phone and since so much of your personal information is tied to your cell phone, you should change your password and your PIN. The PIN is your passcode that gives you access to your account at the phone company that controls your phone. It is not the six digit number you enter on the screen of your phone. The PIN is linked to your actual account. There is a possibility you may not have established a PIN when you set up your account, so make sure you know what your PIN is and if not, create a new PIN and change your existing PIN!
The reason you want to change the PIN is that there is a big scam going on where hackers will go in and forward your phone number to their phone so they can get all of your text messages, emails and everything else that you receive on your phone, including two-factor authentication texts to log into secure and financial websites.
3. Consider freezing your credit reports. A credit freeze protects you by blocking access to your credit reports. When someone applies for credit using your personal information, a lender or card issuer typically checks your credit before making a decision. If your credit is frozen, the potential creditor cannot see the data required to approve the application. We know that hackers use information such as date of birth and social security numbers to open new accounts.
Contact each of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — individually to freeze your credit:
- Equifax: Call 800-349-9960 or go online.
- Experian: Call 888-397-3742 or go online.
- TransUnion: Call 888-909-8872 or go online.
You can also freeze your credit report at two lesser-known credit bureaus that may have information about you:
- Innovis: Call 800-540-2505 or go online.
- National Consumer Telecom & Utilities Exchange: Call 866-343-2821 or go online.
Generally, you need to provide your Social Security number, birthdate and other information confirming your identity.
Once a credit freeze is in place, it secures your credit file until you lift the freeze. You can unfreeze credit temporarily when you want to apply for new credit.
You can visit the website T-Mobile has created for potential victims of the hack. There you can find detailed information on the data breach, what action T-Mobile is taking, and what you can do.
T-Mobile is offering free McAfee identity protection for two years. The company is also advising customers to set up other features from T-Mobile like Scam Shield and their Account Takeover Protection service.
How We Help
At Live Oak, our job is to help you not only build wealth, but preserve your wealth. That is why we incorporate protection planning into our financial planning process.
We believe that protection planning is not an add-on, but a fundamental part of your financial plan. Through working together, we help determine the right strategies to take and create a comprehensive plan, from goal setting to asset management. We are here to help you secure and protect the financial lifestyle you want. To set a meeting to talk through your goals and needs, call our office at 770-552-5968, or you can click here to schedule an appointment online.
Matthew Gaude is an *investment advisor representative and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. Working first as a commodity broker and then as a Business Development Manager for a national broker-dealer in previous jobs, he has the insight and experience to help clients understand the complexities of the market and implement strategies to minimize risk. To learn more about Matthew, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Shawn McGuire is a financial advisor and the co-founder of Live Oak Wealth Management, a financial services firm in Roswell, Georgia. He serves the planning and investment needs of corporate employees, those approaching or in retirement, and 401(k) plan sponsors. He has worked in financial services since 2002 in positions ranging from financial advisor to stock broker and portfolio manager. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, he is trained to help clients with virtually all their financial needs. To learn more about Shawn, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.liveoakwm.com.
Securities offered through American Portfolios Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through *American Portfolio Advisors, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Live Oak Wealth Management, LLC is independently owned and not affiliated with APFS or APA.
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