Identity Theft

Warning Signs of Identity Theft

In 2012, 12.6 million U.S. adults were victims of identity theft. This equates to 1 incident every 3 seconds. When identity theft strikes, it costs the average consumer around $365 in unrecoverable funds and time missed from work to close fraudulent accounts and deal with reestablishing their credit.1

With your personal information, thieves can withdraw money from your bank account, make charges on your cards, open new accounts in your name and get medical treatment using your health insurance. By recognizing the indicators of ID theft, you can help keep the damage from spreading. Here are some common red flags to watch for.

  • Errors on your bank or credit card statement are often the first warning sign. Check your statements regularly, looking for unexplained or inaccurate information—a withdrawal, a check, an electronic transaction or a purchase that you didn’t make. Also, keep track of when your bills are normally delivered. Monthly bills that don’t arrive on time, whether online or in the mail, could mean that an ID thief has stolen or redirected your mail. Contact the credit issuer to ensure that they have your correct email or mailing address.
  • Unfamiliar accounts or unexplained inquiries on your credit report can be the result of mistakes, but they are also indicators of ID theft. Use the credit report dispute process to investigate any of these occurrences.
  • A call from a debt collector about an account that is not yours could mean that a fraudulent account has been open for months and no payment has been made. Respond to the caller and let them know you don’t own the account, but don’t give out any of your financial information.
  • Problems with your medical insurance may indicate that someone has used your identity to obtain medical treatment. If your health plan rejects a legitimate medical claim saying you’ve reached your benefits limit, or you receive bills for medical treatments that you never had, it’s time to contact your insurance company to report the fraudulent use of your insurance.
  • If you are denied credit even though you know your credit is good, it may mean that your identity has been stolen. You are entitled to a free credit report within 60 days if an application is denied because of your credit history. Obtain the free report and look for entries that don’t belong there.

Early detection is the best way to slow the effects of identity theft. Learn to recognize its signs so you can respond quickly.

12013 Identity Fraud Report: Data Breaches Becoming a Treasure Trove for Fraudsters, Javelin Strategy & Research, February 20, 2013.

 

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