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By Kara Brandeisky
Updated: October 2, 2015 5:25 PM ET
A customer exits a T-Mobile store in Glendale, California, on August 1, 2014.
A customer exits a T-Mobile store in Glendale, California, on August 1, 2014.
Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images

It’s happened again: If you’re you applied for T-Mobile service or device financing anytime between Sept. 1, 2013, and Sept. 16, 2015, you’ve been hacked.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere announced yesterday that hackers breached Experian, the credit bureau that processes T-Mobile’s credit checks. The fraudsters got names, addresses, birth dates, and — most unfortunately — Social Security numbers for some 15 million T-Mobile credit applicants. That includes both customers and people who submitted to a T-Mobile credit check but either cancelled or never activated their T-Mobile service.

While hackers did not access credit or debit card numbers during this breach, losing your Social Security number is actually worse. If an identity thief uses your credit or debit card, you can report fraudulent purchases when you see your bill. You should get your money back, and your financial institution will simply send you a new card. But with your Social Security number, an identity thief can open new accounts, run up debt in your name, and ruin your credit score—potentially before you even know that a thief has your information. And you can almost never change your Social Security number.

Fortunately, there’s one foolproof thing you can do to prevent this kind of identity theft: Freeze your credit report. Here’s what we told victims of data breaches last year:

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Advertiser Disclosure

The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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