WBTV Investigates questions why credit freeze didn’t help ID theft victim

WBTV Investigates questions why credit freeze didn’t help ID theft victim

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Kristi McElfresh knew something was wrong when she started get notifications in the mail from banks she didn’t belong to.

“This was a huge red flag to me,” the Iredell County woman said.

She knew something was very wrong when a book full of checks from TD Bank showed up in her mailbox.

“They all were different account numbers, all opened on the same day in my name,” McElfresh said.

She says she never ordered the checks and she’s not even a TD Bank customer. it was only the beginning of her problems.

“I’m at nine,” McElfresh said,

“Nine separate identity theft cases.”

6 accounts with TD Bank, two Walmart Green Dot cards and a Moven card.

“I was flabbergasted, I was sick, I was angry, I was in shock,” McElfresh said.

She filed this report with the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. The case is still open but McElfresh’s frustration is also focused on the financial institutions she says failed her.

**TAKE SOT**

Kristi McElfresh/ID Theft Victim

9:32:00 – our livelihood as consumers relies on these people and they’re constantly letting us down

McElfresh was a victim of the Equifax hack in 2017. She showed us records proving she received free identity protection service called TrustedID after the hack. That included putting a freeze on her credit.

A credit freeze restricts access to your credit report making it harder for identity thieves to open accounts in your name because most agencies need to see your credit score before opening a new account.

“They didn’t even check the credit because there was a freeze on the credit with all three major credit bureaus,” McElfresh said.

I reached out to TD Bank to ask how an account was opened in her name. In an email statement a spokesperson wrote

“In this case, unauthorized accounts were opened online by an unknown suspect. We notified the victim in April 2018 that we closed the accounts.”

But they did not answer our most important questions, including how an account was opened in MCElfresh’s name when she had a credit freeze. (See TD Bank’s full statement below).

Equifax gave us even less..saying “it is our policy not to work through the press to resolve consumer issues.” But McElfresh says people from the company she spoke to denied accounts were even opened in her name since it didn’t appear on their reports. (See Equifax’s full statement below).

“They didn’t give me the time of day, they shut me down,” McElfresh said.

While no money was spent in her name McElfresh says her credit score has still been dropping.

“You don’t know what’s coming next because everything I thought I was doing to protect myself it just seems to not be working.”

Statement from TD Bank Spokesperson:

"At TD Bank, we take the issue of fraud and identity theft very seriously. We investigate each case to determine the facts and take appropriate action. In this case, unauthorized accounts were opened online by an unknown suspect. We notified the victim in April 2018 that we closed the accounts and that we implemented steps to identify future attempts to open a TD account under the name of the victim. There were no financial transactions conducted on the accounts before they were closed. We regret that the victim in this case was misinformed that she had to go to a TD Bank store to resolve this situation since it was not necessary. Looking at the general issue of identity theft, people can be targets for increasingly sophisticated attempts to gain unauthorized access to their personal information. This is an issue for diverse businesses and consumers across the country. As a result, TD Bank utilizes industry best practices in an effort to safeguard customer accounts and the information of our customers, and we provide tools and information to help customers do the same. As we did in this case, we also advise victims of identity theft to file a police report with their local law enforcement agency and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.

Statement from Equifax Spokesperson:

Due to our strong commitment to protecting consumer privacy, it is our policy not to work through the press to resolve consumer issues or discuss details regarding specific consumers. We are aware of this case, investigating it thoroughly, and will work directly with the consumer moving forward.

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