BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has launched an investigation of the wireless carrier T-Mobile after a major data breach affects over 50 million people.
The investigation is to help determine whether the company had proper safeguards in place to protect consumer information and mobile device information. The names, Social Security numbers and information from driver’s licenses or other identification of those who applied for T-Mobile credit were exposed; at least 13.1 million current customers’ and 40 million former and prospective customers’ information was compromised after T-Mobile’s computer network was breached in July 2021.
T-Mobile, which is based in Bellevue, Washington, became one of the country’s largest cellphone service carriers, along with AT&T and Verizon, after buying rival Sprint last year. It reported having a total of 102.1 million U.S. customers after the merger.
“My office is extremely concerned about how this data breach may have put the personal information of Massachusetts consumers at risk,” said AG Healey. “As we investigate to understand the full extent of what’s happened, we urge impacted consumers to take the necessary precautions to ensure their information is safe, and to prevent identity theft and fraud.”
The company now says it will offer two years of free identity protection services and is recommending that all of its postpaid customers, those who pay in monthly installments, change their PIN. Its investigation is ongoing.
AG Healey is urging consumers who are current or former customers of T-Mobile to take steps to protect themselves from identity theft or fraud.
Place a credit freeze on your credit report. Unlike credit or identity theft monitoring (which alerts you after potential identity theft has already occurred), a credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. It is among the strongest precautions you can take to protect your credit. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts. It also requires you to “lift” the freeze if you want businesses, cell phone providers, lenders, or employers to be able to review your credit. It’s free to place, lift, or remove a freeze. The FTC offers more information about credit freezes here.
Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
Beware of phishing attempts and unsolicited texts, calls or emails notifying you of fraud on your accounts or offering credit monitoring or identity theft services. Consumers should never provide their social security number, credit card or bank account numbers, passwords, or other personal information in response to unsolicited emails or calls. Consumers should also not click links provided through a text they are not expecting. If you are concerned about one of your accounts, log into your account directly from your institution’s webpage (and not a link provided in the text).