The goal of identity thieves is to steal your personal information and use it for their financial gain at your expense. They will go to great lengths to access your credit card, Social Security number (SSN), or other financial accounts.
Do not be counted as one of the millions of Americans affected by fraud. Be careful what you post online, protect your personal information, financial accounts, and your connections to avoid being a victim.
What are the Warning Indicators of Identity Theft?
ID thieves can steal your personal information in many ways, but regardless of the method, the outcome is still the same-you are the victim. Here are some indicators that fraudsters are at work.
Unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account
You might notice some discrepancies in your bank account statement like unfamiliar withdrawals, doubtful charges, or your check bounced with an unauthorized signature. These are indications that you are a victim of identity theft.
Someone is using your bank details without your knowledge and stealing your money.
Unauthorized activity on your credit card
Another sign of identity theft is erroneous charges on your credit card statement. Sometimes malefactors test the waters with small chargers, and if left unnoticed by the credit card holder, this escalates to bigger purchases.
Calls from debt collectors
Debt collectors are hired by companies to collect debts from non-paying clients. You might be surprised to receive a call from debt collectors asking for payment for purchases charged to your credit card, which you don’t recognize.
Denied for a credit card or loan
False records can deny approval of your request for a credit card or a loan, especially if there is a bad payment history or a large chunk of the unpaid balance. A fraudster might have access to your personal information and used this for their illicit activities.
Your medical bill doesn’t add up
Your medical claim is rejected because you have reached the limit of your benefits. Something is not right, an ID thief might have gained access to your information in a medical emergency or in a doctor’s clinic. This could impact your medical benefits or someone else’s health records winds up in your medical history.
Sometimes fraudsters change the mailing address of victims to be rerouted to their favored address. They collect information from your mail to create a new account.
Imposters can buy stuff using your name, open wireless accounts, or upgrade existing accounts to their benefit.
What to Do If I’m a Victim of Identity Theft
Cheats can use your personal information in their illicit activities by opening new financial accounts, filing tax returns, or making false medical requests. Protect yourself from being a victim with this guideline we prepared.
Analyze your situation
Check the type of fraud you are involved with such as credit, banking, taxes, employment, government benefits, medical, and criminal.
Place a fraud alert with a National Credit Reporting Agency (CRA)
Get in touch with one of the three CRAs to reduce the chances of opening an unauthorized account in your name. The agency where you placed a fraud alert will notify the other two. You can request a free credit report from each agency,
- Equifax — (888) 766-0008
- Experian — (888) 397-3742
- TransUnion — (800) 680-7289
Check your financial accounts
Close all unauthorized new accounts, also the existing account with unapproved activity, and request for a new account.
Test your computer for viruses
Test your computer for malware, if it is infected run your antivirus software to remove it.
Secure your proof of identity
Submit the completed documents provided by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and provide proof of your identity.
File a complaint with the FTC
File a complaint with the FTC either online by calling the FTC Identity Theft Hotline at (877) ID THEFT, or (877) 438-4338.
File a police report
Print a copy of your complaint with the FTC and use it to file a report with the police. The police may take the report to show courtesy, but this will be helpful since this proves that you reported the incident to the police.
Keep an account of your actions
Keep copies of documents and jot down telephone numbers, dates of calls, people you talked to, and mailings.
Order credit reports
Request for your free CRA report once every 12 months online or by calling (877) 322-8228.
Be proactive and take the initiative to prove that you are not responsible for the illicit activity.
What do Identity Thieves Do with Your Information?
There are myriad ways identity thieves can gain access to your personal information through data breach or simulation tactics.
They commit fraud at your expense by running up charges to your credit cards, fabricating new accounts, and using your persona for medical treatment. At times, criminals could prevent you from filing taxes by filing a tax return in your name and acquire your tax refund. The worst they could do is use your name when arrested by the police.
While stolen credit cards can be easily canceled and replaced by calling the issuing company, it’s not the same for a stolen SSN. The account holder has to resolve the issue, reach out to law authorities, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and other government agencies to show that the crook using your profile and not you.
Fraudsters are good at their craft it takes a while before you can notice signs of identity theft. Consider a digital safety solution to protect your personal information, online connections, and your devices. It is difficult to clean the mess by a crook, so if you notice anything unusual with your accounts take the necessary steps to nip it in the bud.
About the Author:
Douglas Parker is a creative content marketer at Manshoory Law Group, APC. He has always had a special interest in the sphere of Law and Human Rights. Dedicating a lot of his free time to understanding the small details and specifics of these fields, Douglas enjoys exploring and analyzing them in his articles. His main goal is to make this sometimes complicated information available and transparent for everyone.