6M Verizon Customers’ Personal Information Put at Risk

5 years 8 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, July 13 2017 Jul 13, 2017 July 13, 2017 6:31 PM July 13, 2017 in News

MCALLEN – Verizon Wireless is doing damage control after six million customers’ personal information was put at risk.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned from a cyber security expert that hackers can steal your identity with less personal information than you think.

Lenin Miranda is an ex-dancer. Before moving to the Rio Grande Valley, he performed with superstars like M.C. Hammer and Janet Jackson.

In 2004, he decided to leave his hometown of Detroit for the Rio Grande Valley. That same year he became a Verizon customer. He said he's now a little nervous.

“It's kind of crazy because a lot of people use the same codes. So, yeah, it's kind of nerve-racking about that. I’m kind of worried about that, so I’m going to call Verizon when I get done working today," said Miranda.

He's nervous because Thursday it was announced personal information of six million Verizon customers was put at risk. Verizon said the phone numbers and pin security codes were placed online and open to external access.

Ray Mendoza, a cyber security expert and former FBI intelligence analyst, said that’s all a hacker needs to steal your identity. "On the surface, as you say, a phone number and a PIN may not seem like much, but I will tell you with just a phone number it would be fairly easy to do a reverse phone number search and find out the name and address of who owns that phone number," Mendoza said.

Mendoza explained equipped with that information, a cyber thief could order phones, ad phone services and charge them to the customer's account. He said hackers could use this information to create a greater profile of the customer.

"The Verizon dataset with some other dataset that existed in the past and they start to build a bigger picture, and before you know it that can very easily turn into a full blown identity theft. Someone pretending to be you, someone taking loans under your name," Mendoza explained.

We reached out to Verizon. They sent us a statement that reads in part:

An employee of one of our vendors put information into a cloud storage area and incorrectly set the storage to allow external access. We have been able to confirm that the only access to the cloud storage area by a person other than Verizon or its vendor was a researcher who brought this issue to our attention... There has been no loss or theft of Verizon or Verizon customer information.

Mendoza stated to be safe he recommends all Verizon customers immediately change their PIN codes, especially if they use that PIN for multiple services. Mendoza also said customers can subscribe to a credit monitoring service to better protect their identities. 

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