T-Mobile and Experian weave a tangled web
T-Mobile customers learned last week that their information was amongst the 15 million records recently hacked from credit rating agency Experian. For those customers, getting some identity and fraud protection in place should be a priority since the hackers were able to gain information like social security numbers and driver’s license numbers along with basic personal data. However, victims may want to look for other options instead of T-Mobile’s recommended solution from ProtectMyID as a tangled web starts to unfold amidst John Legere’s commitment to be “direct, transparent and honest” regarding the data breach.
Sources have discovered that Legere may not be as forthcoming as one would hope regarding T-Mobile’s relationship with Experian and ProtectMyID. The first problem some have noted is that this is not the first time Experian has been hacked and lost T-Mobile data. The first incident happened in December 2013 and involved a vendor named Decisioning Solutions. As it turns out, Decisioning Solutions was purchased by Experian in April 2013. Despite the incident, T-Mobile decided to stick with Experian for credit check services.
The second problem is more timely and involves the recommended solution T-Mobile and Experian are offering for credit protection services. That solution is ProtectMyID, which was also used for the 2013 breach, and as it turns out is owned by Experian. Thus, Experian is using their own business to provide a “fix” for the data that Experian failed to protect in the first place.
Although not advertised by T-Mobile and not openly posted by Experian, consumers can opt for an “alternative identity protection product,” but they have to call Experian to take advantage of this option. Given the relationship between Experian and ProtectMyID, this seems like it may be a prudent move for victims to take.
There are at least five class-action lawsuits pending against T-Mobile and Experian with a sixth suit against Experian expected, all related to the security breach. Consumers may want to investigate making sure they are included in one of those lawsuits.
In the meantime, calls have already started urging Legere and T-Mobile to end their relationship with Experian. That would leave T-Mobile with access to TransUnion or Equifax or a smaller firm for credit check services.
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