Warning Signs of Identity Theft
Having your private information that can personally identify you stolen and used for scrupulous purposes can be devastating. The crime of identity theft is happening in abundance and will soon happen to each individual on the plant.
Knowing what identity theft is, how it happens, the warning signs and what to do if it happens to you can be more important than one may think.
Unfortunately, some may not be worried about it and think their information may not be important. It’s these lax people that can make the perfect victims for identity theft.
Protecting your data needs to be taken seriously.
Your identity can be stolen in just minutes and can cause you months, years and even a lifetime of trying to fight wrongful use of your data.
Take measures now to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.
Learn more about what exactly identity theft is, how to best protect yourself against it, and the signs to know if your identity has been compromised.
What is Identity Theft?
When someone uses your personal or financial information without your permission, this is referred to as identity theft.
Identity theft is more than just stealing your money. This could involve much more!
Thieves could steal your private information such as name and address, credit cards, credit scores, bank accounts, stock market accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, Social Security number, tax filing information, auto insurance, or even medical insurance information.
If that is not enough, here are a few of the many ways your data can be used:
- Use your credit cards to make purchases.
- open new credit cards in your name
- open a phone, electricity, or utility account in your name
- Intercept your tax refunds
- Use your health insurance to obtain medical treatment.
- If they are arrested, pretend to be you
How Identity Thieves Benefit with Your Personal Information
When identity thieves obtain your personal information, they can empty your bank account, charge your credit cards, start new utility accounts, and use your health insurance to get medical treatment.
A tax refund might be filed in your name and received by an identity thief. A thief may even divulge your name to the authorities during an arrest in very extreme situations.
- Withdrawals from your bank account appear that you can’t explain.
- Odd accounts or charges appear on your credit report.
- Debt collectors call regarding debts you’re unaware of.
- Mail decreases or does not arrive including bills.
- Checks are refused or declined with merchants.
- Bills are charged for Medical services you didn’t create.
- Legitimate medical claims are rejected because health plan records state your benefits limit has been reached.
- Your medical records show an illness you don’t have, therefore health plans won’t cover you.
- The IRS informs you that more than one tax return has been filed in your name, or that you receive income from an employer for whom you do not work.
- Your personal information has been compromised as a result of a data breach at a company with which you conduct business or have an account.
Identity theft can happen to anyone. There are several steps you can take to lower your chances. Click here if you believe your personal information is being used to open accounts, file taxes, or make transactions.
Get 12 Tips to Identity Theft Prevention here!
How you can detect identity theft
Identity theft can happen gradually and quietly. Almost like cancer. You don’t notice it has happened until you realise there are signs of something different and questionable.
Here are some simple methods for you to spot identity theft personally:
- Track bills amount owed and due dates. If you stop receiving notices of bills, someone changed your personal billing information. Then you will not be aware of bills in your name. You will still be responsible though.
- Review bills monthly. Confirm all charges are correct. Unknown purchases can be signs of identity theft. Including new accounts.
- Confirm bank statements. Verify each withdrawal. Including deposits. Even if it is for under $5.00. Some scammers just want to confirm valid bank accounts..
- Review your credit reports quarterly. Review your credit reports from each credit bureau to ensure there are no accounts in your name that you don’t recognize. Any questionable account or even new addresses could be a sign of identity theft.
You can get your free credit report by clicking on this link here from the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection site.
The moral of this story is that it is YOUR identity. It is your responsibility to protect it. Should you not take the steps to protect your private data, it could result in years or longer to attempt to fix what was stolen from you. Obviously, that would be more than a nightmare.
We recommend checking your personal data often. This could be weekly or monthly. Some check more often than that. We do encourage you to check your identity more than once per month. Should something occur within the timespan in between, it may be too late to protect yourself.
Stay safe out there!
Check out the Federal Trade Commission for more information on Identity Theft here.
Be sure to check out IdentityTheft.gov.