MIAMI (CBSMiami) – This summer’s Equifax hack exposed millions of Americans personal information.
Experts say everyone should assume their information has been compromised.
Lee and Allison Cutbirth have always taken extra steps to protect their identities.
“The credit goes to my lovely bride who goes as far as burning our information off our prescription labels before she throws them away,” Cutbirth said.
But that vigilance wasn’t enough.
Recently, his identity was stolen and criminals tried to open a credit card and a car loan in his name.
Fortunately, he was able to stop it before losing any money.
“It made us both really angry,” he said.
Lee says it happened shortly after the Equifax data breach.
The credit reporting agency says hackers got access to the personal information of more than 145 million people.
“Should most Americans assume their personal identity has been compromised?” CBS News correspondent Meg Oliver asked Scott N. Schober, president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems.
“I think it’s safe to say everybody has been compromised,” Schober said.
Schober says the big fear is that your information could end up on the dark web – an untraceable area of the internet that attracts criminals.
He showed Oliver everything from bank statements to driver’s licenses and security answers.
“It’s filled with tons of information available out in the wild to access buy and sell,” he said.
“What can they do with it?” Oliver asked.
“Anything they want. They can kind of control the world in a sense, that’s what scares me so much,” Schober responded.
Schober said there’s no way to completely protect yourself. But he advises going old school – always use cash instead of your debit card and you should also freeze your credit so no one can open an account in your name.
Cutbirth believes his information was exposed in the Equifax breach.
He’s now hired a lawyer and joined a class action lawsuit against the company.
“We’re looking to hold Equifax accountable and that includes making sure that they change their ways going forward,” said class action attorney Catherine Fleming.
The Cutbirths have taken steps to protect their identity but wonder if it’s enough to stop criminals in the future.