In the summertime of 2022, KrebsOnSecurity documented the plight of a number of readers who had their accounts at big-three shopper credit score reporting bureau Experian hijacked after identification thieves merely re-registered the accounts utilizing a special e-mail tackle. Sixteen months later, Experian clearly has not addressed this gaping lack of safety. I do know that as a result of my account at Experian was just lately hacked, and the one manner I might get better entry was by recreating the account.
I just lately ordered a duplicate of my credit score file from Experian by way of annualcreditreport.com, however as common Experian declined to supply it, saying they couldn’t confirm my identification. Makes an attempt to log in to my account immediately at Experian.com additionally failed; the location mentioned it didn’t acknowledge my username and/or password.
A request for my Experian account username required my full Social Safety quantity and date of delivery, after which the web site displayed parts of an e-mail tackle I by no means approved and didn’t acknowledge (the total tackle was redacted by Experian).
I instantly suspected that Experian was nonetheless permitting anybody to recreate their credit score file account utilizing the identical private info however a special e-mail tackle, a significant authentication failure that was explored in final 12 months’s story, Experian, You Have Some Explaining to Do. So as soon as once more I sought to re-register as myself at Experian.
The homepage mentioned I wanted to supply a Social Safety quantity and cell phone quantity, and that I’d quickly obtain a hyperlink that I ought to click on to confirm myself. The location claims that the telephone quantity you present will probably be used to assist validate your identification. Nevertheless it seems you can provide any telephone quantity in america at this stage within the course of, and Experian’s web site wouldn’t balk. Regardless, customers can merely skip this step by deciding on the choice to “Proceed one other manner.”
Experian then asks in your full identify, tackle, date of delivery, Social Safety quantity, e-mail tackle and chosen password. After that, they require you to efficiently reply between three to 5 multiple-choice safety questions whose solutions are fairly often based mostly on public data. Once I recreated my account this week, solely two of the 5 questions pertained to my actual info, and each of these questions involved road addresses we’ve beforehand lived at — info that’s only a Google search away.
Assuming you sail by way of the multiple-choice questions, you’re prompted to create a 4-digit PIN and supply a solution to considered one of a number of pre-selected problem questions. After that, your new account is created and also you’re directed to the Experian dashboard, which lets you view your full credit score file, and freeze or unfreeze it.
At this level, Experian will ship a message to the outdated e-mail tackle tied to the account, saying sure elements of the consumer profile have modified. However this message isn’t a request looking for verification: It’s only a notification from Experian that the account’s consumer information has modified, and the unique consumer is obtainable zero recourse right here apart from to a click on a hyperlink to log in at Experian.com.
And naturally, a consumer who receives considered one of these notices will discover that the credentials to their Experian account not work. Nor do their PIN or account restoration query, as a result of these have been modified additionally. Your solely choice at this level is recreate your account at Experian and steal it again from the ID thieves!
In distinction, if you happen to attempt to modify an present account at both of the opposite two main shopper credit score reporting bureaus — Equifax or TransUnion — they’ll ask you to enter a code despatched to the e-mail tackle or telephone quantity on file earlier than any adjustments may be made.
Reached for remark, Experian declined to share the total e-mail tackle that was added with out authorization to my credit score file.
“To make sure the safety of shoppers’ identities and knowledge, we now have applied a multi-layered safety method, which incorporates passive and lively measures, and are continuously evolving,” Experian spokesperson Scott Anderson mentioned in an emailed assertion. “This contains knowledge-based questions and solutions, and system possession and possession verification processes.”
Anderson mentioned all shoppers have the choice to activate a multi-factor authentication methodology that’s requested every time they log in to their account. However what good is multi-factor authentication if somebody can merely recreate your account with a brand new telephone quantity and e-mail tackle?
A number of readers who noticed my rant about Experian on Mastodon earlier this week responded to a request to validate my findings. The Mastodon consumer @Jackerbee is a reader from Michican who works within the biotechnology business. @Jackerbee mentioned when prompted by Experian to supply his telephone quantity and the final 4 digits of his SSN, he selected the choice to “manually enter my info.”
“I put my second telephone quantity and the brand new e-mail tackle,” he defined. “I acquired a single e-mail in my authentic account inbox that mentioned they’ve up to date my info after I ‘signed up.’ No verification required from the unique e-mail tackle at any level. I additionally didn’t obtain any textual content alerts on the authentic telephone quantity. The particularly fascinating and egregious half is that after I sign up, it does 2FA with the brand new telephone quantity.”
The Mastodon consumer PeteMayo mentioned they recreated their Experian account twice this week, the second time by supplying a random landline quantity.
“The one distinction: it requested me FIVE questions on my private historical past (final time it solely requested three) earlier than proclaiming, ‘Welcome again, Pete!,’ and granting full entry,” @PeteMayo wrote. “I really feel foolish saving my password for Experian; could as properly simply make a brand new account each time.”
I used to be lucky in that whoever hijacked my account didn’t additionally thaw my credit score freeze. Or in the event that they did, they politely froze it once more after they had been achieved. However I totally anticipate my Experian account will probably be hijacked but once more except Experian makes some necessary adjustments to its authentication course of.
It boggles the thoughts that these basic authentication weaknesses have been allowed to persist for therefore lengthy at Experian, which already has a horrible monitor report on this regard.
In December 2022, KrebsOnSecurity alerted Experian that identification thieves had labored out a remarkably easy strategy to bypass its safety and entry any shopper’s full credit score report — armed with nothing greater than an individual’s identify, tackle, date of delivery, and Social Safety quantity. Experian mounted the glitch, and acknowledged that it persevered for practically seven weeks, between Nov. 9, 2022 and Dec. 26, 2022.
In April 2021, KrebsOnSecurity revealed how identification thieves had been exploiting lax authentication on Experian’s PIN retrieval web page to unfreeze shopper credit score information. In these instances, Experian didn’t ship any discover by way of e-mail when a freeze PIN was retrieved, nor did it require the PIN to be despatched to an e-mail tackle already related to the buyer’s account.
Just a few days after that April 2021 story, KrebsOnSecurity broke the information that an Experian API was exposing the credit score scores of most Individuals.
Extra biggest hits from Experian:
2022: Class Motion Targets Experian Over Account Safety
2017: Experian Website Can Give Anybody Your Credit score Freeze PIN
2015: Experian Breach Impacts 15 Million Prospects
2015: Experian Breach Tied to NY-NJ ID Theft Ring
2015: At Experian, Safety Attrition Amid Acquisitions
2015: Experian Hit With Class Motion Over ID Theft Service
2014: Experian Lapse Allowed ID Theft Service Entry to 200 Million Client Information
2013: Experian Bought Client Information to ID Theft Service