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Warning Signs of Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the only crimes that you may not be immediately aware has happened to you. The warning signs of identity theft can go unnoticed at first.
Identity theft is much more common than you may have realized. There were 16.7 million cases in 2017. In that year, $16.8 billion was stolen from consumers.
Credit and debit card providers will usually refund you for any fraudulent transactions. But it can take up hours of your time dealing with the problem and you may not get your money back immediately.
If you spot identity theft early enough, though, you can limit the damage. Here’s the early warning signs that you may be a victim of identity theft.
1. Your Important Mail Stops Arriving
If you don’t receive important mail that you are expecting, thieves may be intercepting your mail.
They may be doing this by stealing the mail from your mailbox. Or they may have used change of address forms to reroute your mail to another address.
If mail like credit bills fail to arrive, contact the credit card company straight away. Check what address they are delivering your bills to. If it’s not your address, you may have an identity theft problem to deal with.
2. Loans You Don’t Recognize Appear on Your Credit Report
Your credit report will list all loans and credit agreements in your name. If you see a loan that you didn’t take out, you may have been a victim of identity theft.
It’s a god idea to check your credit report for any unusual activity. Free credit reports are available from the major credit bureaus; TransUnion, Experian and Equifax.
3. The IRS Informs You That You Already Filed Your Taxes
If the IRS tells you that you have already filed your taxes, and you haven’t, that could be a sign that you are a victim of tax-related identity theft.
Thieves file fraudulent tax returns in other people’s name to get tax refunds. The simplest way to avoid this scam is to file your taxes as early as possible.
4. You Receive Bills for Accounts You Never Opened
Identity thieves will sometimes open lots of credit card accounts in your name and buy lots of goods. You won’t know about it until you get the bill.
If you get a bill for an account you didn’t open, report to the card issuer straight away. You should also check your credit report. If the account is on the report, you will need to contact the credit bureau to dispute it.
5. You Reached Your Health Insurance Limit Without Having Had Any Treatment
Identity thieves may get medical treatment on someone else’s medical insurance.
In you receive a notice from your health insurance company advising you that you have exceeded your limit, and you believe you haven’t, dispute it straight away. There might be someone else who is getting that expensive treatment on your health insurance.
6. A Job Opportunity Inexplicably Falls Through
Identity theft can take more than money from you. It can also affect your employment prospects.
Some employers do credit checks on candidates for jobs. If you get turned down for a job you were prefect for, check your credit report. It could be that an identity thief has left you with a load of unpaid debts and wrecked your credit score.
7. You Get Unexpectedly Turned Down for Credit
Getting unexpectedly turned down for credit is one of the early warning signs of identity theft. This will be because the thief has run up a lot of debts in your name.
If you get turned down for a loan, a credit card, or even a new phone contract, check your credit report to see what has happened.
8. Unusual Withdrawals from Your Accounts
Check your bank statements and credit card bills carefully. If you see anything you don’t recognize, check it with the bank.
Unusual withdrawals from your bank accounts could be a sign that an identity thief is spending your money.
9. Debt Collectors Chasing You for Money You Don’t Owe
Calls from collection agencies demanding payment can sometimes be scams. But it could be a call about a loan that has been taken out your name by an identity thief.
If you get a collection agency calling you about a loan you didn’t take out, check your credit report. If it’s not your loan, contact the lender.
10. Unexplained “Hard” Enquires on Your Credit Report
Whenever you apply for credit, the lender will make a credit inquiry about you. That inquiry will appear on your credit report.
There are two types of credit inquiries made. Soft inquiries are made for promotional purposes. For example, a credit card company may make an inquiry before they send you a promotional offer.
Hard credit inquiries are made when you apply for credit. Too many of these, and it will affect your credit rating.
If you see lots of unexplained hard inquiries on your credit report, it could be a sign that someone has been applying for credit in your name.
11. You Have Earnings on Your Social Security Statements That Aren’t Yours
Check that you can account for of all the earnings that appear on your Social Security statement. If there are earnings listed on there that you don’t recognize, someone else could be using your social security number.
12. A Drop in Your Credit Score
A drop in your credit score could indicate that accounts you are not aware of have been opened in your name. It could also be that someone has been applying for credit in your name.
As you can see, spotting identify theft is all down to keeping an eye on your credit report, your bank statements, and your credit card bills. The warning signs that you are a victim of identity theft are there to be seen, but you do have to watch out for them.
We hope that these warning signs that you are a victim of identity theft are useful. If you think that other people may benefit from reading them, please do share this post on your social media accounts.
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