After Equifax breach, victims try to regain their identities

Posted at 1:22 AM, Oct 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-29 01:22:28-04

SEATTLE (KCPQ/CNN) - Katie Van Fleet said she’s spent months trying to regain her stolen identity.

“I don’t know if my information’s been sold to the dark web or wherever this goes,” she said. “I keep receiving letters from Kohl’s, from Macy’s, from Old Navy saying, ‘Thank you for your application.’”

But she says she’s never applied for credit from any of those places. Instead, Van Fleet and her attorney believe her personal data was stolen during the massive Equifax security breach.

“It’s a product that they want to sell and that they need to profit off of,” said Van Fleet’s attorney, Catherine Fleming. “That’s what they care about.”

Fleming has filed a class-action lawsuit against Equifax, saying the company was negligent when it lost private information on more than 140 million Americans.

“Countless people. I mean, I’ve really, truly lost count, and the stories that like Katie’s, the stories I hear are heart-wrenching,” Fleming said.

“Everyone’s social has pretty much been stolen in the last 10 years,” said Cybersecurity expert Bryan Seely, who advises people to take steps to protect themselves from identity theft.

First, shop with a credit card. It’s easier to get stolen money back from a credit card than from a debit card.

Be sure to review your credit report regularly from all credit reporting agencies.

And, finally, he said you should freeze your credit. Doing so makes it impossible for strangers to open lines of credit in your name.

Van Fleet said she has spent countless hours trying to restore her good name, and she’s hoping to get a handle on the mess before she takes a crack at buying a house in Seattle.

“I didn’t sign up to use Equifax, so I feel all of that stuff has been taken, and now I am left here trying to sweep up the pieces and just trying to protect myself and protect my credit,” Van Fleet said.

People who want to freeze their credit should do so with all three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Copyright 2017 KCPQ via CNN. All rights reserved.