You may know and practice many of the steps used to prevent identity theft, but these crimes can come from a number of angles. You may have a hard time protecting all of your information in print, online, and with companies.
In addition to knowing how to defend yourself against identity theft, you must also be able to recognize the warning signs of a theft that's already happened. Early detection plays a key role in minimizing the damage caused by identity theft.
In this blog, we list eight common warning signs that you've been targeted.
1. Unexplained Bank Withdrawals
The most common, and often the first, sign of identity theft comes by the way of unexplained bank withdrawals. Many identity thieves make small withdrawals initially to test whether or not they can use your card or account without detection. For this reason, it's vital that you report any withdrawals you can't explain to your bank, even if the withdrawal only totals $1.00.
2. Account Lockouts
Online service providers never change your password for you. If you get locked out of your email, online bank branch, or other website that
processes sensitive information, someone may have hacked the account.
3. Bills for Services You Did Not Obtain
Many perpetrators of identity theft use the information they gain to pay for expensive goods or services. If you receive a bill for a product or service that you did not buy, a thief may have used your financial information to pay for it.
4. Bounced Checks or Overdraft Fees
Having a check bounce can be embarrassing, but it can also serve as one of the earliest warning signs of identity theft. A thief may make big purchases quickly to use as much of your funds as possible before you notice. If an identity thief has used your account, you may notice insufficient funds the next time you write a check.
5. Data Breaches at Companies You Use
While not all company data breaches result in identity theft, you should always change your account information or close the account after an incident. After a breach, the company typically sends out a notification to help you take steps to head off would-be thieves.
6. Missing Financial Statements or Bills
Print mail still represents one of the most common targets of identity thieves. If you use paper billing, pay attention to the date range during which you usually receive your statements and bills. If your mail does not arrive on time, it may be in someone else's hands.
7. Multiple IRS Errors
Some identity thieves take advantage of tax return season to steal. If the IRS sends you a notification of an error, such as two returns filed in your name or income reported from a place you never worked, the mistakes likely result from fraud.
8. Unexpected Debt Communication
If you have current debts, you likely know exact what company holds them. If you receive new statements from accounts you did not open or companies you do not work with, someone may have opened an account in your name. Likewise, if you receive debt collection calls for charges you do not recognize, the spending likely came from an identity thief.
Pay attention to your finances, mail, and accounts to ensure that you have an idea of what's normal. Once you know your baseline, watch for any of the signs listed above that an identity thief has unlawfully accessed your information.
Think you may have had your identity stolen? Take immediate steps to stop the theft. File a police report, put a fraud alert on your credit report, and contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Additionally, work with your financial institutions, including your bank and any lenders, to identify fraudulent activity.