Identity theft is one of the most prevalent crimes of our time.
With so much of our lives conducted in the open and impersonal online space, stealing identities and committing financial and other fraud has never been easier. Fortunately, stopping these crooks isn’t too difficult.
It requires searching for signs of identity theft, by remaining vigilant and paying close attention to financial records. So if you want to know how to check for identity theft, and what to do about identity theft, please keep reading.
1. Unexplained Charges
This is one of the first signs of identity theft to look out for.
It also happens to be one of the easiest to recognize. It requires checking your bank account statements, as well as credit card statements, and looking for unusual charges.
If you notice that there are charges that you didn’t make, it’s a good sign you’re a victim of identity theft. In this situation, you’ll need to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. And it’s a good idea to request a credit freeze at the three major credit bureaus, which prevents the thief from opening new accounts in your name.
2. Unexpected Changes in Your Credit Report
Regularly checking your credit report is a good habit. It helps you stay ahead of anything that can affect your credit rating—and it can help you detect signs of identity theft.
If you notice strange charges and accounts that aren’t yours on your credit report, it indicates the activity of an identity thief. Correcting your credit report is an important step, since it affects just about every part of your financial life.
Check out sites like Consumerprotection.net to find an identity theft lawyer that can help repair your credit reputation.
3. Unusual Debt Collector Calls
You’ve always been careful to pay your bills on time, and you’ve avoided unmanageable debt wherever possible.
But then you start receiving annoying phone calls from collection agencies. Aside from being a nuisance, these calls could be a sure sign of identity theft. The debt collectors may be calling about debts that have been incurred by an identity thief.
And since they’ve stolen your name and information, you’re the one who is being hassled for unpaid bills that you had nothing to do with.
4. Unexplained Medical Bills
Receiving a hefty medical bill when you haven’t been inside a hospital for years is a good sign that you’ve been the victim of identity theft.
You should be very suspicious whenever you receive a medical bill like this. This is a plain indication that an identity thief has absconded with your health insurance information, and is using it to get medical care.
If medical identity theft ever happens to you, respond quickly by contacting your health insurance provider to get the problem resolved. And look out for smaller medical charges—such as a thief using your info to acquire prescription drugs.
5. Rejected Health Insurance Claim
A related problem, and even more troubling, is that you do have a legitimate medical problem, but your health insurer rejects your claim.
The issue here is that the insurer’s records show you’ve exceeded your available benefits. In fact, it’s an identity thief who’s used up all your medical benefits, leaving you high and dry.
This is infuriating since you expect to be able to use your medical benefits when you need them. Worst of all, sometimes there’s little you can do to prevent this theft. Data breaches at medical offices, for instance, are one way that identity thieves can acquire your information.
6. Declined Cards or Checks
Aside from being embarrassing, a declined credit card or check can be one of the first signs of identity theft.
It doesn’t always indicate theft of this nature—the most common reason is simply exceeding the credit card’s limit or a simple bounced check. However, if you know you haven’t made any big purchases, and you were certain you had enough money to cover your expenses, it’s a cause for concern.
If it is a case of identity theft, most credit cards and banks have protections in place. The bank or credit card issuer will simply cancel the suspect charges, and issue you a new card.
7. Unusual Deliveries
One day, your doorbell rings, and you find an Amazon package on your doorstep.
Nothing unusual here, right? The problem is, you can’t remember ordering anything. In fact, you’re certain you didn’t. It could be a case of an identity thief who has been using your Amazon account (or another retail account) to order products but forgot to change the shipping address.
It’s a hassle, but this situation can be easily dealt with. Contact the retailer to return the item and dispute the charges, and then change all your passwords and have your credit cards replaced.
8. Social Media Doppelgänger
Finally, we come to one of the weirder signs of identity theft.
It’s the kind of thing that could only happen in this day and age. You notice that some of your social media accounts, such as Twitter and Facebook, start displaying odd posts that you didn’t make.
It’s a clear sign that you’ve been the victim of identity theft. It’s important to change your passwords and login credentials immediately. Then, you need to keep a close eye on your financial information and look for any signs of suspicious activity.
Look Out for These Signs of Identity Theft
Identity theft is just one of those unpleasant facts of life, but there are steps you can take to prevent it. If you pay close attention to these eight signs of identity theft, you can keep ahead of the crooks and make sure your identity is secure.
We hope you found this article helpful and informative. And while you’re visiting, please check out our other great posts.