Identity theft affects millions of Americans every year, with thieves draining people’s bank accounts, destroying credit scores and even ruining reputations. Unfortunately, many victims aren’t aware of an issue until significant damage is done, but by learning the telltale signs of identity theft, you have a much better chance of detecting any problems before it’s too late.
LifeLock, a part of credit reporting agency TransUnion, suggests watching out for the following red flags:
- You receive a call, email or letter from your bank notifying you of possible fraud on your account.
- You see withdrawals you can’t explain on your bank statement, or charges you didn’t make on your credit card statement.
- Your interest rates go up due to unknown credit activity.
- Your credit report shows accounts you didn’t open or credit checks by companies you haven’t done business with.
- You’re denied credit or a rental application, even though you know you have a strong credit record.
Mail and Telephone
- Bills or other pieces of mail you’re expecting never come.
- You receive a bill for services you didn’t use.
- You get a credit card you didn’t open or a letter related to an account you never established.
- Debtors call you about bills you’ve never heard of before.
Taxes and Social Security
- The IRS informs you that more than one tax return was filed under your name or that a dependent’s Social Security number was already claimed.
- You receive tax documents from an employer you never worked for.
- Your Social Security statement shows errors. For example, your reported earnings appear inflated.
- Your health plan rejects a medical claim with the explanation that you’ve already reached your coverage limit.
- You can’t get coverage under a new plan because your medical record lists a condition you don’t have.
- You regularly receive treatment solicitations for health conditions you don’t have.
- A merchant refuses your check, or your credit card gets declined.
- An employer denies you a job based on a bad background check, even though you know your record is clean.
- A company you have an account with (or regularly do business with) notifies you that it’s experienced a data breach. Or, you learn about such a breach in the news.
If you suspect you’re a victim of identity theft, contact your bank, relevant government agency or health insurance provider immediately. Early detection can help minimize the damage and simplify the recovery process of identity theft, saving you unnecessary stress and lost time.