Millions of Americans fall victim to the crime of identity theft every year, and cybercriminals make no distinction in who they target to commit this fraud. If you have a Social Security number, you are at risk no matter where you live, how old you are or your financial standing. The statistics are staggering, and the problem shows no signs of settling down any time soon.
If you are unaware of the many potential methods that threat actors use to attempt to steal personal information, ignorance is not bliss under current circumstances. Informing yourself of these threats, and the potential for fraud they present, are critical to dealing with things appropriately if a situation arises. Below are several key indicators of identity theft to help you act quickly when you might be a victim.
Unknown Charges on Accounts
Credit card and debit card fraud remain a constant issue. Luckily, these instances are also some of the easiest to spot and deal with. It’s always a good idea to regularly check all your financial accounts to look for any unknown or unexplained charges. Your account information is easier to steal than you might realize, and criminals will start spending as much of your money as they can as quickly as possible.
If you notice any unknown charges on your checking, savings, credit card, or any other account, double-check your records to see if you are responsible for the withdrawal or expense. If you aren’t, contact your bank or credit card provider immediately. Most financial institutions have fraud prevention systems in place, and they might even spot the issue before you do. Signing up for fraud detection or alert services is always a good idea.
Random Debt Collection Calls
Getting a call from a debt collector is never fun, but when you get a call for debts that you didn’t know existed, it’s cause for alarm. Identity thieves can take out credit cards or loans under your name without your knowing about it. And they obviously won’t make the necessary payments on that debt, and they can easily rack up thousands of dollars in debt before you get a call from a collection agency.
If your credit card has been stolen or your bank account was hacked recently, you might be more at risk for this warning sign. When you receive a collection call for suspicious debt, it’s critical for you to act quickly to get things figured out.
Credit Line Denied or Credit Card Declined
If you are denied a new credit line or your current credit card is declined, both of those unhappy developments are signs of identity theft. Having a loan or credit line denied can happen to those establishing new credit or anyone with bad credit. But if you believe that your credit and accounts are in good standing and you still get denied or declined, the situation should be investigated. Identity thieves can take out loans or credit cards in your name, making it difficult or impossible for you to receive the same credit as you thought that you had.
It’s important to keep a regular eye on your credit reports and financial accounts to ensure no one is using your name to abuse your credit. If left unchecked, such a situation can damage your credit score and severely impact your ability to receive credit until the problem is resolved.
Bogus Bills and Statements
Another indicator of identity theft occurs when you receive a bogus bill or suspicious statement. If you reach into the mailbox and find official-looking mail in your name with a bill inside, it could mean that someone opened an account or signed up for a service under your name.
Don’t just throw this bill away and forget about it. Call the company who sent it and figure out what exactly the bill is for and if you actually owe money for the debt or not. And make sure that you don’t simply call the number listed in the bill, as this could be phoney and another part of the scam. Look up the sender’s official number or contact information before reaching out.
Tax Troubles/Unknown Unemployment
Similar to receiving unexpected bills or statements, you should also be suspicious if you get a tax update or statement from the IRS that you weren’t expecting. This is a potential sign that someone has filed a tax return using your personal information in an attempt to secure a fraudulent income tax refund. The IRS has some good information on this scam and the steps that you should take if you suspect tax-related identity theft.
Fraudsters can also file for a claim for unemployment compensation using your personal information. If you receive any notices about unemployment that you weren’t expecting, you might be a victim. This scam skyrocketed during the initial stages of the pandemic, and it’s something to be aware of moving forward.
Health Insurance Issues
Health insurance fraud or medical identity fraud is another growing concern, and signs of this variety of fraud can appear in a few different ways. One initial indicator is unknown medical bills that can occur when someone gets medical treatment using your benefits. If you receive a bill for healthcare that you didn’t get, contact your insurance company or the bill issuing party immediately.
Another sign of health insurance fraud is having your benefits maxed out when you aren’t actually using them. If you get a notice or are contacted by your provider saying your benefits have reached their limit, it’s always good to check in to see if that’s accurate. This could lead to denial of care if you have a real issue, so it needs to be addressed quickly.
The many online accounts that the average person has make potential hacks a constant issue. If you receive notice that one of your accounts has been logged into or a login has been attempted, it could be a sign that your personal information has been compromised.
This might not seem as significant as fraud surrounding your financial or health information, but it’s not something to leave unattended. Online accounts can hold precious personal data that thieves can use to commit other types of fraud down the line. Make sure to update login information and change passwords if a suspicious attempt to gain access to your accounts has been made.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.