JUNE 25, 2022
Things like your social media accounts are precious to cybercriminals. Some are even more sought after than banking details. Tap or click here for how much your stolen credit card is worth on the Dark Web. But the last thing you want to hear is that your bank account or Social Security number has been breached.
Unfortunately, that happened recently to millions of customers at a popular bank in the U.S. The bank suffered a data breach late last year but only notified its customers this month that hackers stole the personal details of over 1.5 million users. This included Social Security numbers.
Read on to find out how this happened and what you can do about it.
Here’s the backstory
Flagstar Bank is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the country and has over 150 branches. According to the data breach notification sent to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, the hack occurred in early December 2021.
It reveals that Flagstar Bank didn’t discover the breach until June 2, 2022. Over 1.5 million people were affected, including 1,028 Maine residents. In addition, it took the bank two weeks to wrap up an investigation before sending notices to affected customers.
The customer letter explained the breach and what the bank did to mitigate any risk. “After an extensive forensic investigation and manual document review, we discovered that certain impacted files containing your personal information were accessed or acquired from our network between.”
The bank stressed that there is “no evidence” of the hackers misusing the data, but “out of an abundance of caution,” will offer two years of free identity monitoring through Kroll.
What you can do about it
Credit and identity monitoring is a great option, but when hackers expose your Social Security number and name, you must take some steps yourself. Even though the hack took place more than six months ago, you might want to freeze your credit.
It won’t affect your credit score, and it makes it more difficult for scammers and criminals to open new credit accounts in your name. Here’s how you freeze your credit with the three largest credit bureaus:
The easiest way to do it through Experian is to visit the Security Freeze webpage. From here, log into your account and fill in the details. It’s relatively easy to create an account before proceeding. You also have the option to call 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742), or you can submit your request in writing. A security freeze will remain on your credit file until you remove it.
Equifax has a similar process to Experian, as you can easily do it online. Go to the Equifax Security Freeze page, log in (or create an account) and follow the steps. If you need help, you can also call them at 1-866-478-0027. For free, you can also place a one-year fraud alert on your credit report.
Navigate to TransUnion Credit Freeze and click on Add A Freeze. You’ll be prompted to create an account or log in. Fill in your details, and TransUnion will take care of the rest. If you have any questions, you can call them at 1-888-909-8872.