T-Mobile & Data Breaches: What You Need to Know

T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, has had several data breaches over the years. These breaches have exposed the personal information of over 100 million customers and employees, including names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and even social security numbers.

The impact of these breaches can’t be underestimated, and understanding the issue is crucial for T-Mobile customers to protect their personal information or seek compensation for any damages caused.

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is when unauthorized individuals access, view, steal, or use sensitive or confidential information. This can happen due to hacking, malware attacks, physical theft of devices containing personal information, or simply human error.

According to recent studies, it takes an average of 277 days for companies to identify and contain a data breach. During this time, your data is available in real-time to unauthorized parties who can use it for fraudulent activities such as identity theft, financial fraud, or even blackmail.

But, data breaches can expose a lot more than customer information. Employee data like social security numbers, bank account details, and salary information can also be compromised. This not only puts employees at risk of doxing, retaliation, and financial fraud, but it can also damage the reputation and trust of the company.

What Happened in T-Mobile’s Data Breaches?

Since 2009, T-Mobile has experienced several data breaches, three of which happened in 2023 alone. The first one of the year affected 37 million customers, exposing their personal and financial information accessed through a vulnerable API.

T-Mobile & Data Breaches What You Need to Know

The second breach a few months later in April didn’t affect as many customers, but it did go on for over a month before the company became aware of it. It exposed 834 customer records that included highly sensitive information, including full social security numbers, T-Mobile account pins, and government ID data.

A third data breach resulted from technical issues with a planned system upgrade. This breach affected about 100 customers and was fixed quickly. However, it once again raised concerns about T-Mobile’s data security measures, as this had been the third issue with customer data within a few months.

The largest data breach T-Mobile experienced was in 2021, when the information of nearly 77 million customers was stolen. This information included names, birth dates, social security numbers, driver’s license details, current customer accounts, and details about those who applied for credit through T-Mobile.

Eight other data breaches have happened since 2009, affecting the privacy and security of millions of customers and employees. In some cases, this information was sold on the dark web, and in other cases, namely the 2009 breach, it was sold to rival companies for use in marketing campaigns.

The Cost of Data T-Mobile Data For Customers

In the U.S., the average cost of a data breach for companies amounts to over $9 million, nearly double the global average. But this figure is a far cry from the suffering customers face when their information is exposed and used for nefarious purposes.

In the case of T-Mobile data breaches, customers have been subjected to identity theft and financial fraud, leading to significant financial losses of $1,100 to as much as several thousand per person.

Affected customers also spent time and money trying to recover and protect their personal information. After a data breach, customers can spend as much as $400 per year on dark web monitoring services, fraud alerts, and identity protection.

None of this includes the emotional distress, anxiety, and trauma that comes with being a victim of identity theft or fraud. Considering it can take at least six months and hundreds of hours to rectify identity theft, it is no surprise that T-Mobile data breaches have resulted in multiple class-action lawsuits.

Data Breaches and the Law

While every state has its own laws regarding data breaches and consumer protection, the FTC is responsible for enforcing regulations regarding data breaches.

Under the FTC’s Safeguards Rule, institutions such as T-Mobile must have a comprehensive information security program to protect customer’s sensitive data, including but not limited to:

  • Designating an employee to coordinate the information security program
  • Conducting a risk assessment and implementing measures to control identified risks
  • Regularly monitoring and testing the effectiveness of these measures
  • Updating and continuously improving their security program as technology evolves.

Because T-Mobile also offers banking services, they are subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).

Under this act, institutions such as T-Mobile are required to:

  • Develop a written security plan that details how they will safeguard customer information
  • Monitor and test their systems regularly
  • Train employees on security policies and procedures
  • Respond promptly to any data breaches or unauthorized access incidents
  • Adjust and update their security plan as needed.

No matter the cause or length of the breach, all institutions have 30 days to notify the FTC and affected individuals. In the case of T-Mobile data breaches, the company has faced legal action from government agencies for not complying with these regulations, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in fines, penalties, and settlements.

Can I Sue T-Mobile For Data Breaches?

Customers affected by T-Mobile data breaches have the legal right to file a lawsuit against the company for negligence, invasion of privacy, and failure to protect sensitive information.

But to do so, you’ll need more than an experienced lawyer; you’ll also need to prove that the data breach resulted in harm or damage.

You can do this by demonstrating:

  • Direct Financial Losses. Customers need to prove that they suffered financial losses due to the data breach, such as fraudulent charges or unauthorized withdrawals from financial information stored by T-Mobile.
  •  Fraud & Identity Theft-Related Costs. Customers can claim for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred from trying to protect their identity or financial accounts, such as fees paid to credit monitoring services or legal costs.
  • Emotional Distress. In some cases, customers may be able to claim for emotional distress and suffering caused by the data breach. However, this may depend on state laws and the severity of the breach’s impact on the individual.
  • Punitive Damages. In cases where customers can prove that T-Mobile was grossly negligent or acted recklessly, they may also claim punitive damages to punish and deter the company’s carelessness.

A data breach doesn’t need to affect you in all these ways to have a valid claim against T-Mobile. Many customers file suits only using the fact that T-Mobile potentially compromised their data. However, the more evidence you can provide to support your case, the stronger it is.

Class-Action vs. Individual Lawsuits

Proving your claim against T-Mobile for data breaches can be time-consuming and challenging, especially when facing a large corporation with vast financial resources and experienced legal teams. This is why many affected customers join a class-action lawsuit instead of filing an individual claim.

Hacker Breaches Your Data

Class-action lawsuits allow multiple individuals to come together and file a claim as a group, making it easier to pool resources, share evidence, and increase the chances of success.

Additionally, if the class-action lawsuit is successful, all plaintiffs are entitled to compensation without having to go through individual proof or trial.

In the 2021 hack that exposed the data of 76.6 million customers, T-Mobile paid $350 million to plaintiffs, with some receiving as much as $25,000. The company also agreed to provide affected customers with two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services, in addition to committing $150 million to update its security systems.

Individual lawsuits may or may not pay out more, but they can take longer and require more time and resources. Ultimately, the affected individuals must weigh their options and decide which action best suits their situation.

However, whether through a class-action or individual lawsuit, holding T-Mobile accountable for data breaches can result in compensation for affected customers and push companies to prioritize and strengthen their cybersecurity measures.

What to Do if a T-Mobile Hack Breaches Your Data

Contact the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC has a dedicated Consumer Response Center to handle data breaches and identity theft complaints. They can provide guidance on steps to take and information on any ongoing investigations or potential legal action against the company.

By contacting the FTC, you also help hold companies like T-Mobile accountable for their actions and contribute to the overall effort of protecting consumer data.

Freeze Your Credit Report.

In a data breach, it is crucial to freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). This will prevent anyone from opening new accounts in your name without your consent. You can also set up fraud alerts with each bureau to be notified of any suspicious activity.

Monitor Your Accounts Regularly.

Once data is breached, it is out there for anyone to access, so monitor your financial accounts and credit reports for any unauthorized activity.

If you spot anything suspicious, report it immediately to the FTC and contact your bank or credit card company. It takes nearly a year for companies to realize someone hacked them, so the sooner you identify and report any issues, the better.

Keep Documentation.

No matter how insignificant it may seem, keep all documentation related to the data breach. This includes any emails or notifications from T-Mobile and any correspondence with government agencies.

Whether screenshots, physical copies, or digital files, these documents can serve as evidence should you decide to file a lawsuit against the company.

Can a Lawyer Help Me With a T-Mobile Data Breach?

A lawyer is the best resource to help you understand your legal rights and options in the case of a T-Mobile data breach. They can advise you on the best course of action, whether it be filing an individual lawsuit, joining a class-action lawsuit, or negotiating a settlement with the company.

Andrew Finkelstein Jacoby & Meyers LLP

Data Breach Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

When you contact a lawyer for assistance:

  • Explain the details of the data breach and how it has affected you personally.
  • Share any evidence or documentation you have regarding the data breach, such as emails or notifications from T-Mobile.
  • Discuss your goals and what compensation or outcome you are seeking.

There is no guarantee that a lawyer can help you win a case against T-Mobile, but they can provide valuable insight and expertise in navigating the legal process. They can also take on the burden of gathering evidence and handling legal proceedings, allowing you to focus on protecting your identity and financial accounts.

FAQ: T-Mobile Data Breaches

1. Can I sue T-Mobile for a data breach?

Yes, you have the right to sue T-Mobile for a data breach if your data is compromised. However, the success of your case may depend on factors such as state laws and the severity of the breach’s impact on you.

2. Is it better to join a class-action lawsuit or file an individual claim?

This personal decision should be based on your circumstances and goals. Class-action lawsuits can provide a stronger case and shared resources, but individual claims may result in higher compensation. Consulting with a lawyer can help you make an informed decision.

3. How do I know if my personal information has been compromised in a T-Mobile data breach?

If you are a T-Mobile customer, the company will notify you if your personal information has been compromised in a data breach. However, it is also essential to regularly monitor your financial accounts and credit reports for any unauthorized activity. If you suspect your T-Mobile information may have been compromised, contact the company’s customer support for assistance.

Reclaim Your Safety in the Wake of a T-Mobile Data Breach

T-Mobile is no stranger to data breaches, but as a consumer, you have the right to protect your personal information and hold companies accountable for their negligence.

By staying informed, taking preventative measures, and seeking legal assistance when necessary, you can reclaim your safety and minimize the damage done in the wake of a T-Mobile data breach.