When Vanessa Alvarado applied for a job at Gap in Greece, she got more than she bargained for.
“You can’t do anything about,” she said, “it’s very scary.”
In a letter from Gap, Vanessa learned personal information on her application was stolen from a company that manages data for the popular chain retailer. Two laptops were stolen, and those computers had Vanessa’s social security.
But she was not the only one. Anyone applying to Gap, Old Navy or Banana Republic between July 2006 and June 2007 received the same letter. That’s about 800,000 people.
“I didn't know what to do at that point because it's a really big deal when people have information like that of yours,” Alvarado said.
And she would be right. It could lead to identity theft.
Maureen Murphy works at Lifespan, mainly to protect senior citizens against credit fraud, but she says anyone can be a victim. There are a few things the Gap applicants can do to protect themselves now.
“Any credit cards that they have -- I would cancel all of that,” she said.
And under a New York State law, potential fraud victims can call the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) to put a freeze on their social secuirty and credit.
“What that means is, for someone to go about opening up a credit account, they would have to be able to unfreeze your account, and only you can do that,” Murphy said.
Gap has also offered applicants several tips as well as one free year of credit monitoring service, but that still doesn’t settle well with Alvarado.
“I just don't think that's enough because if something happens I can't do anything about it,” she said.
In a statement, Gap says they deeply regret the incident occurred. The case is still under investigation, but a Gap spokesman says it doesn’t appear the personal information was the target of the theft. So far, there have been no reports of stolen identity.