A Seattle woman says her identity has been stolen 15 times as a result of the Equifax breach — and she’s now filing a class-action lawsuit against the credit-reporting agency, alleging negligence on the company’s part.
The Equifax breach affected about 145 million Americans when it was revealed in July; the company was also hacked about five months earlier in another incident that the company claims was unrelated to the July hack.
Katie Van Fleet says she keeps “receiving letters from Kohl’s, from Macy’s, from Old Navy saying, ‘Thank you for your application'” as people apply for credit cards in her name, according to WAFB. “I don’t know if my information’s been sold to the dark web or wherever this goes.”
Van Fleet says she has spent months trying to recover her identity.
Attorney Catherine Fleming, who lists class actions as a specialty on her firm’s website, says she’s seen numerous cases like Van Fleet’s.
“Countless people. I mean, I’ve really, truly lost count,” she says.
Class action suits like this will become less common after Republicans in the House and Senate recently voted to allow the financial industry to use forced arbitration clauses and class-action waivers again. These agreements were nearly ubiquitous before the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau banned them in July.
Under a class-action waiver, a consumer signs away the option to sue a bank or lender in a class-action suit in in a public trial and hearing process. Forced arbitration clauses go even further, pushing all disagreements between a consumer and financial institution into private arbitration — which most consumers can’t afford.
The Senate vote, which was so close that it required Vice President Mike Pence to act as tiebreaker, gave the financial industry “its most significant legislative victory since President Donald Trump took office,” according to the Wall Street Journal.