10 Warning Signs of Identity Theft and How to Report It
June 7, 2023
In today's interconnected world, where our personal information is stored online and transactions are carried out digitally, the risk of identity theft has become more prevalent than ever before.
The Warning Signs of Identity Theft
- Unexplained Financial Activity: Unexpected withdrawals, unfamiliar charges, or mysterious transactions appearing on your bank statements or credit card bills.
- Missing Mail or Emails: If you stop receiving mail or electronic communications, it could be a sign that an identity thief has redirected your correspondence to a different address or email account.
- Sudden Drop in Credit Score: A change in the information on your credit report such as a sudden and unexplained decline in your credit score. If you have diligently paid bills and managed your finances, this may signal that someone is committing fraud with your information.
- Inaccurate Account Information: Unfamiliar accounts or loans in your name when reviewing your credit report could indicate these accounts have been opened fraudulently.
- Receiving Calls from Debt Collectors: Persistent calls from debt collectors about accounts or debts that you have no knowledge of may indicate that your identity has been compromised.
- Social Security Number Misuse: Notifications from the Social Security Administration stating that your benefits have been adjusted, or if you notice any discrepancies in your annual statement.
- IRS Notification of Duplicate Returns: If you receive a notice from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) stating that more than one tax return was filed under your Social Security number.
- Denied Credit Applications: Credit card or loan applications are repeatedly declined, despite having a good credit history, could be due to an identity thief using your information to open fraudulent accounts.
- Medical Bill Irregularities: Receiving bills or explanations of benefits for medical services you did not receive might suggest that someone is fraudulently using your identity for healthcare purposes.
- Unfamiliar Accounts or Changes in Personal Information: If you notice changes to your personal information, such as your address, phone number, or email, without any action on your part, it could be a sign of identity theft.
How to Report Identity Theft
- Contact Law Enforcement: Report the incident to your local police department and file a police report. Be sure to provide them with all relevant details and any supporting evidence you have. Obtain a copy of the report, as it will be useful when dealing with other organizations.
- Notify Credit Bureaus: Contact the three major credit bureaus listed below to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This alert informs potential creditors that you may be a victim of identity theft and prompts them to take extra precautions before approving any credit applications in your name.
- File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Visit the FTC's Identity Theft page to file an identity theft report. This report serves as an official record of the theft and provides important information for law enforcement agencies, credit bureaus, and businesses involved in investigating and resolving the fraud.
- Alert Financial Institutions and Creditors: Contact your bank, credit card issuers, and any other financial institutions where you hold accounts. Inform them about the identity theft and any unauthorized transactions. Close compromised accounts and open new ones with fresh account numbers. Monitor your accounts regularly for any fraudulent activities.
- Report Identity Theft to Other Agencies: Depending on the nature of the theft, you may need to report the incident to other organizations. For instance, if your Social Security number was stolen, contact the Social Security Administration or call 1-800-772-1213.
Recover from Identity Theft
- Strengthen Security Measures: Change your passwords, PINs, and security questions for all your online accounts, especially those that may have been compromised. Consider enabling two-factor authentication for added security.
- Monitor Your Credit and Accounts: Request a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus mentioned earlier. Review the reports carefully for any unauthorized accounts or changes in your personal information. Regularly monitor your bank account statements, credit card statements, and other financial statements for suspicious activity.
- Stay Vigilant: Protecting Your Information