Identity thieves can find a way to compromise your personal information, regardless of your financial condition. They can use the stolen information to commit various kinds of fraud and illegal activities. For example, they may use your info to drain out your bank accounts, credit cards, etc. Moreover, they can issue a health or car insurance policy in your name and have you pay the premiums.
Statistics reveal that there were almost 17% of Americans who experienced a data breach in the first quarter of 2021. It is not something new considering thousands of Americans experience cases like this annually. Identity theft could make you lose thousands of dollars, and another few thousand trying to prove the identity theft.
Therefore, the easiest way to avoid all this inconvenience is to detect it early. Early detection can help you track identity theft earlier and minimize the possible financial damage. Following are the easiest ways to check for identity theft.
Signs of Identity Theft
The following are the signs of identity theft you should look out for.
Strange Credit Card Charges
If you see a bank statement and see a transaction that you do not recognize, it is the first red flag for identity theft. Identity thieves usually make a small charge as a test to see if you would report to the concerned authorities. Once they are sure they will not get caught, they move on to bigger transactions and make the actual theft.
Change in Credit Card Statements
Unless you have digital statements from your banks, you should be aware of paper statements that might be missing. If your paper statements go missing, it may be because criminals change addresses during an identity breach. Criminals can use documents with sensitive information to further exacerbate the fraud.
An Unepected Increase in Credit Score
While this sounds strange, a rising credit score without making any significant financial changes can indicate fraud.
An Unepected Decrease in Credit Score
While non-fraudulent reasons, like a loan application or an unpaid bill, can cause your credit score to go down, it’s always best to double-check things. If your credit score goes down and you do not know why, there is a chance that you are a victim of identity theft.
Rejected Electronic Tax Return or a Tax Transcript
Identity thieves may also request a tax transcript using your information, in hopes of getting a refund. The worst part is that most people do not know about this until their first tax return is rejected.
Credit Card or Loan Denial
A credit card or loan denial could mean that an identity thief messed up your credit score. The opening or use of credit can affect your credit history, and your overall score, to the point where you can no longer get approved for a loan or credit card. Before jumping to any conclusions, it’s important to do your research and ensure that the denial is not due to any financial decisions made on your end.
Creation of a New Bank Account or Credit Card
Identity thieves may also apply for credit cards under your name once they have access to it. They will try to max out the credit card in most cases and it is nearly impossible for most victims to prove that it is identity theft.
Inaccurate Medical Records
The medical insurance cost in the US is around $12,530 per person. Identity thieves could use your personal information to take advantage of your health benefits and coverage. Unfortunately, you may not even get any notifications or mail for this if they have access to your personal information.
Identity theft could also be the cause of a health benefit request getting turned down.
Debt Collectors Contacting You for Unknown Accounts
If you find people contacting you for debt collections for accounts you do not recognize, there’s a chance that you have become a victim of identity theft. These thieves use to buy things from your account on credit and then leave the bill in your name.
How Can You Check?
You can use the following steps to ensure your identity’s safety.
- Always keep an eye on your monthly bank statement and reach out to the bank management, if you notice something unusual.
- Monitoring your finances closely can help you minimize the chances of identity theft.
- US citizens can get a free credit report once a year. You can always monitor your credit through this report.
Identity theft is a serious concern. Keeping a close eye on your finances and bank statements can help you minimize the chances of theft with your account. You should also keep an eye on unknown debt collector calls, denied loans, and credit cards. We also suggest you keep an eye on unrecognized credit score changes. These simple steps will help you maximize your security against identity theft and keep your finances safe.