Identity theft is a nightmare we all hope to avoid. But for one Seattle woman, it’s a real ordeal she’s had to live through more than a dozen separate times, thanks the the Equifax data breach.
Katie Van Fleet explained that she first noticed something was wrong when she started getting credit card application response letters in the mail.
“I kept receiving letters from Kohl’s, from Macy’s, from Home Depot, from Old Navy saying, ‘Thank you for your application,’” she said.
However, Van Fleet never applied for those credit cards, which just kept coming. In all, she claimed that her identity has been stolen at least 15 times.
The timing of the applications, according to Van Fleet’s attorney, Catherine Fleming, coincides with the Equifax data breach, which occurred earlier this year. More than 145 million Americans had their credit and identities compromised in the breach, which lasted from May to July of this year.
Equifax didn’t announce the breach until September, and by then much of the damage had been done. Equifax also attempted to dupe millions of Americans into signing up for its “help” site — which, the fine print stated, would result in those individuals waiving their rights to a class action suit against the company.
Van Fleet said she is hoping that her story can help others in some way.
“I want to share my story and make people aware that this can happen to anybody,” she said.
Indeed, that is a very good lesson to learn, an it’s one that most Americans haven’t taken to heart. One poll demonstrated that only one in five Americans have actually started closely monitoring their credit reports since learning about the breach.
Van Fleet’s story is an extreme example of what can happen, but it’s also not one that’s entirely uncommon. Any one of us can become victims of identity theft — and with the Equifax data breach this past summer, it’s now more important than ever before to keep an eye on your credit.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Tami Chappell/Reuters