New data breach: Experian targeted


Add two more big names to the list of companies been invaded by hackers in a data breach.

This time, data thieves hit Experian, the vendor that processes T-Mobile's credit applications. That means people who do business with T-Mobile or applied for credit with that may have been affected. The number of possible victims is around 15 million.

Ironically, Experian also serves as one of the credit bureaus that sells a credit monitoring service to prevent identity theft. Experian North America says it was one of its business units that was compromised, but its consumer credit bureau was not affected.

The data at risk comes from a two year period: September 1, 2013 through September 16, 2015. Those affected include anyone who needed a credit check for service with T-Mobile or for a device during that time. The information included names, addresses, birth dates, and Social Security numbers.

Experian and T-Mobile have set up two years of free credit monitoring and identity resolution services for compromised customers. The service is being offered through Experian's own credit monitoring service.

Experian cautioned consumers that under no circumstances would either Experian or T-Mobile call them or send them messages asking for personal information in connection with the breach.

What To Do If You Are Caught In A Data Breach

Working with the Better Business Bureau, Ruth to the Rescue has come up with these guidelines to help you protect your credit or debit cards before, or after, you suspect they've been involved in a breach.

1) Stay calm. Consumers are not liable for fraudulent charges on stolen account numbers.
2) Check with the website of the retailer for the latest information. Type the store name directly into your browser. Do NOT click on a link from an email or social media message.
3) On that note- beware of emails that may come into your inbox, claiming to help you deal with the crisis. Those emails could be fake, hoping you'll click on a dangerous link or share personal information.
4) If your card was compromised, you will likely hear from the bank or card-issuer first. If you have questions, call the customer service number on your card.
5) Consider putting fraud alerts on all your accounts. Check with each bank or financial institution on how to do so. You can usually set a dollar amount that will spark a fraud warning, if the company sees suspicious activity.
6) Monitor all your financial accounts carefully. If you have computer access, try checking your account weekly. Do not wait for the monthly statement.
7) If you see a fraudulent charge, report it to your bank or credit card issuer immediately so the charge can be reversed and a new card issued.
8) Keep receipts so you can prove which charges are legitimate.
9) Be careful about how often you use your debit card. If you debit card is hacked, thieves will be stealing your money, and debit cards do not have the same protections as credit cards. Make sure you know what kind of protection your account will offer.
10) Consider having a "dirty" credit card. This card would be used for all public transaction and online purchases. Ideally, you can pay it off each month, and if it's hacked you'll have better protection. Use your debit card for getting cash, and use other credit cards for major purchases.
11) Change your passwords on financial accounts frequently. Also, make sure you create "strong" passwords that will not be easily guessed.
12) When you hear about a date breach, share that information with family and friends, so they can also follow these steps to protect themselves.

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