Seattle woman says ID stolen 15 times after Equifax data breach

SEATTLE – We’re now seeing firsthand fallout from the massive data breach at Equifax that compromised the credit of millions of Americans.

A Seattle woman told Q13 News her identity was stolen more than a dozen times

Now her attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit to represent all victims in our state.

“I don’t know if my information has been sold to the dark web or wherever this goes,” said Katie Van Fleet.

She 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,” she said.

But Van Fleet says she never applied for credit from any of those places – instead she and her attorney believe her personal data was stolen after personal information was hacked from the credit reporting firm Equifax.

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

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

“I’ve really, truly lost count,” Fleming said of stories like that of Katie Van Fleet.

“Somebody has an ID out there with my address, my name and their picture on it. That’s frustrating," she said.

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

He says everyone can take steps to protect themselves against identity theft.

First, shop with a credit card because Seely says it’s easier to get stolen money back than from your debit card.

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

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

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

Van fleet added that she’s spent countless hours trying to restore her good name and credit, and she’s hoping to get a handle on the mess before she takes a crack at buying a house 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,” she said.

A request for comment from Equifax was not immediately returned.

Those looking for more information about joining the class-action suit can find out more information here.