Identity Theft Warning Signs
Identity theft is a real threat that everyone faces. By being informed and understanding what identity theft looks like, you can go a long way towards preventing identity theft happening to you.
Read on for some of the most common (and perhaps surprising) ways you can spot identity theft warning signs, and what to do to protect yourself from further identity fraud damage.
Check Your Credit Report
Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to a free annual copy of your credit report.
Order a copy of your credit report through one of the major credit bureaus and look for red flags such as credit accounts you didn't open and credit inquiries when you didn't apply for credit.
Missing Bills & Other Mail
If you suddenly stop receiving bank statements, bills, and other pieces of mail, it could mean an identity thief has filed a change of address form (likely to keep you in the dark for as long as possible) or has been stealing your mail to collect your personal information.
Contact your bank, creditors, or other businesses from which you receive mail and ask if any address form has been completed in your name or if there's any specific reason you've stopped receiving mail.
Understand this also goes for receiving unexpected mail. For example, you might receive a post office notice letting you know your mail will be forwarded to a new address, or you start receiving credit cards for which you never applied.
When it comes to e-mail correspondence, an identity thief could have hacked into your online account and changed information, such as your password and the e-mail address you have on file with the company. Try logging into your account and checking your information; if you can no longer log in, contact the company and begin steps to determine whether your account was hacked and how to solve the problem.
Bank Accounts & Credit Unions
You might be the victim of identity theft if you:
- See bank withdrawals or charges you didn't make.
- Pay attention to even the smallest charges. Sometimes the thief will make a small “test" purchase to see if you notice.
- Discover you're missing checks.
- Your bank or credit union also might send notification of cleared checks you didn't write.
- Also pay attention when a merchant refuses your check.
- Log into your bank or credit union account and see electronic transactions you didn't make.
Credit Cards & Other Accounts
Pay attention if you:
- Receive a credit card statement from a credit card for which you don't have/didn't apply.
- See charges that you didn't make on an existing credit card.
- Try to make a purchase with your credit card and are declined.
- Apply for a credit account and are turned down despite having good credit (or so you thought.)
As mentioned above, you can get more information about all things pertaining to your credit accounts by ordering a copy of your credit report.
Medical & Healthcare Payments
This one might come as a bit of a shock, but you actually can detect identity theft through medical- or healthcare-related issues.
For example, be on the lookout for:
- Coverage denial.
- Your health insurance provider might deny coverage for a particular service or procedure, claiming you've already received it (but you haven't).
- Your health insurance provider might deny a medical claim stating you've already reached your benefits limit (when you haven't).
- You might apply for a health insurance plan and be denied because your medical records show a certain health condition (that you don't have).
- Medical bills for appointments, treatments, or prescriptions you didn't have.
You could be the victim of identity fraud if you receive correspondence from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating you have unreported wage earnings (from a job or jobs you didn't work) or that there were multiple tax returns filed in your name.
Creditors & Debt Collectors
One of the most common of all identity theft warning signs are phone calls or other notices from creditors and other debt collectors about unpaid bills for purchases you didn't make.