Signs You've Become a Victim of Identity Theft
Protecting yourself from identity theft is more important than ever today. But how do you know if your identity has already been stolen? It's important to know the signs in order to adequately protect yourself.
A creditor informs you of an application for credit in your name and Social Security number, or that you’ve been approved or denied credit, neither of which you ever applied for.
You receive statements or bills for any type of credit, utility or other accounts in your name and address for which you did not apply.
A collection agency contacts you to collect on delinquent accounts that you never opened or authorized.
You find unfamiliar charges on your bank account statements, credit cards, loans, mortgages, calling cards, utilities, other established credit or billing account statements.
Your bank sends you an "insufficient funds" notice or an overdraft funds transfer notice when you should have sufficient funds in your account for all charges you have made and checks you have written.
An unusual or unexplained notice from a governmental agency, state, county or federal tax office may indicate your information was used to commit fraud involving a governmental agency, a federal or state assistance program, or taxes.
An unexpected visit from a police officer involving a criminal investigation or a warrant for your arrest for something you didn’t do.
Service of a summons to appear in court, or lawsuits for actions you know nothing about.
The amount of mail you typically receive is significantly reduced all of a sudden, without explanation, or specific bills, documents or account statements are missing and not received.
Your regular annual check of your credit reports informs you of recent negative changes in your credit report, unfamiliar account or unexpected credit activity.
Identifying Unauthorized Account Access and Mail Theft
Check your credit reports annually to identify problems, errors or possible identity theft.
Check all of your credit card and bank statements at least monthly for any errors or unauthorized purchases. Even if you still have your card, your account number may have been stolen.
Frequently check your financial account statements online or via automated phone services.
Check all of your bills and receipts including utility bills, mortgage statements, subscription renewals and even purchase receipts to make sure that all charges are correct and were authorized by you.
Look for monthly billing or other account statements, credit card replacements or other expected communications from your creditors or bank, keeping a record of when any credit or debit card replacements should arrive.
When you apply for a new credit or debit card, ask when you should expect to receive your card and contact the card issuer if it does not arrive on time.
If you order new checks to be sent to your home via the mail, inquire when your box of checks should arrive and watch for them to be sure you receive them within the specified timeframe.
Reporting Possible Fraud
If your credit or debit card is lost (or maybe stolen), if errors appear on your statements, or if you don't receive your monthly billing or account statements or other expected communications from your service providers, be sure to notify the company immediately.
Report missing mail to your local post office or your local Postal Inspector.
If you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft, take action quickly to determine the extent of the problem and to reduce the damage that the identity thief can do.