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U.Md. data breach victims rush to learn more, swamp phone lines

Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 5:49pm  ET

UPDATE: Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 5:40pm ET

WASHINGTON - The University of Maryland is telling students, alumni and faculty to hold off on calling to sign up for credit monitoring after a deluge of calls Tuesday crashed Experian's hotline.

As of midday, those who called weren't able to speak with an operator and many others were unable to connect at all with Experian.

"At this time we advise you to refrain from calling the UMD Experian hotline until the issues are resolved," the university says in a statement.

The university also announced that it would extend the free credit monitoring for five years, instead of the initial one year.

EARLIER: Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 1:02pm ET

WASHINGTON - University of Maryland students and faculty are struggling to register for free credit monitoring services as the rush for the financial protection overwhelmed phone lines.

Tuesday was the first day that students and staff were able to call Experian to determine whether their personal information had been compromised in a massive data breach that exposed Social Security numbers and other information for more than 300,000 people connected with the university.

Phones lines have been repeatedly busy all morning with a message telling callers "We're sorry. All circuits are busy now."

Experian has not returned multiple calls for comment Tuesday morning. But the university announced that Experian was having "technical difficulties due to high call volume."

Experian call-takers will be available until 9 p.m. although the call volume is expected to remain high through the late afternoon Tuesday, according to the university.

Personal information for current and past students, staff and faculty was exposed in the data breach, which the university revealed earlier this month.

Last week, the university announced that students and staff should call to determine if their information was caught up in the breach and if so they can sign up for a year of free credit monitoring. The service must be activated by May 31.

The breached database contained information from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses. Records included names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and university identification numbers. Academic, financial and health information was not affected.

Some of those who couldn't get through took to Twitter to express their frustration.

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WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and on Facebook.

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