Identity theft has become the most common type of fraud by far. By learning to spot the signs of stolen identity, you’ll be able to protect yourself better or mitigate damage, at the very least. Typical signs of someone having stolen your identity include your checks being declined for no apparent reason, not receiving your regular mail, not getting your bills in the mail, or unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
You might also get inexplicable calls from debt collectors or have your tax return rejected because you have filed more than one of them. If you have no job history, but the IRS comes after you for undeclared income from a company, that’s a sure sign of identity theft.
In addition, if your identity has been stolen, your health insurance provider might reject a legitimate claim because you have exceeded your benefits limit. Or, you might get a healthcare bill for a service you have never used. Also, the provider might refuse to cover you because of a serious illness documented in your records that you were never diagnosed with.
This article goes into more details about how to check whether you’ve become the victim of identity theft.
You Stop Getting Bills or Other Regular Mail
One very common sign is not receiving credit card statements, bills, or other regular mail. Criminals will change the address with your lender so that they start getting your personal information. Don’t ignore statements from unfamiliar accounts or invoices for a product you didn’t order. This means someone opened an account illegally with your data.
Ask for Your Credit Report
Credit reports show not only the extent to which one can be trusted with financial resources but also the first signs that one’s identity was stolen. The first step in checking is to pull your credit report. It’s necessary to get the full and official text to carry out a thorough inspection of all the balances and accounts in your name. The report will include information about student loans, car loans, credit inquiries, payment history, and any open credit cards.
Contact one of the main credit bureaus to get your report: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion (1-888-397-3742, 1-800-525-6285, 1-800-680-7289). Once you’ve done that, the identity thief can’t open any (more) accounts in your name. Most credit card companies don’t hold customers liable for charges incurred by criminals. This is in line with anti-fraud policies.
In addition, the bureau will ask for your personal data to verify your identity. Then, they will get in touch with the other two bureaus and all three will place a fraud alert on your account. Any company that wants to offer you a line of credit or a loan in the next three months will see this alert and think twice about doing so. If you need a loan at this time, they will get in touch to verify your information.
What to Do After the Fact
If you’ve determined your identity was stolen, the next step is filing an identity theft report. This is done with the watchdog responsible, which is the Federal Trade Commission. The report will document the theft, making it easier to recover from identity theft. When filing it, you should enclose a copy of your credit report and any other documents you have related to the theft. After that, you’ll have to replace your ID and other personal documents.
Once you’ve done all this, you can dispute fraudulent or inaccurate data on your credit report and keep creditors and debt collectors from collecting these accounts.