“Concerning:” After massive Equifax breach, woman says her identity has been stolen more than a dozen times

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SEATTLE, Washington — After the massive data breach at Equifax that compromised the credit of millions of Americans, a Seattle woman is blaming the company, saying her identity has been stolen more than a dozen times since early September. She’s decided to sue, and her attorney says she’s not the only victim coming forward.

“I don’t know if my information has been sold to the dark web or wherever this goes. I don’t know which state this is happening in, so it’s definitely concerning,” Katie Van Fleet said.

Van Fleet said she’s spent months trying to regain her stolen identity.

“I kept receiving letters from Kohl’s, from Macy’s, from Home Depot, from Old Navy saying ‘thank you for your application,'” Van Fleet said.

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

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

Fleming has filed a class action lawsuit against Equifax, saying they were negligent when they lost private information on more than 140 million Americans.

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

“Everyone’s social has pretty much been stolen in the last 10 years,” Bryan Seely, cybersecurity expert said.

Seely said everyone should do the following to protect themselves from identity theft:

  • Shop with a credit card. It’s easier to get stolen money back vs. your debit card.
  • Be sure to review your credit report regularly from all credit-reporting agencies.
  • Freeze your credit. Doing so makes it impossible for strangers to open lines of credit in your name.

“I didn’t have a choice to use Equifax,” Van Fleet said.

Van Fleet said she’s spent countless hours trying to restore her good name and credit, and she’s hoping to get a handle on this mess before she buys a home in Seattle.

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