UPDATED Jan. 30, 2018: From Target denying you an in-store credit card to suddenly getting a bill for a purchase you didn’t make or a medical treatment you didn’t receive, there are often major red flags that someone might have stolen your identity.
In this blog post, we will look at 15 of the most common clues. But first, a few real-life stories …
Former Sunrun employee Russell Ashlock first learned he might be an identity theft victim by reading on the internet that his employer, Sunrun, fell for a W-2 phishing scam. His fears came true when nine days after the attack, someone filed a false tax return using his personal identifying information.
Lansing, Michigan resident Dave Austin learned someone had stolen his identity when his employer told him an unemployment claim had been filed in his name. Despite reporting the theft to Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency, Austin’s $5,400 income tax refund was confiscated by the state before it was finally remedied.
Another young man didn’t realize his identity had been stolen until he was 18 and joining the Army. It came up while he was getting his security clearance.
“They were questioning how my credit was so horrible at (age) 18,” user Zero-To-Hero admitted in a 2016 Reddit post. “My credit was trashed before I even started,” he wrote. (Read more true life child identity theft stories here.)
How It Happens
Identity thieves can steal your information in a variety of ways:
- The old-fashioned way, by stealing your purse or wallet;
- Through a corporate data breach wherein a business or organization you trusted with your Social Security number or other personal identifying information is hacked;
- Dumpster diving for sensitive documents;
- Stealing your mail;
- Stealing your credit card info by attaching a skimmer to an ATM or the gas pump;
- Phishing attack where you’re lured into surrendering personal information.
As you can see from our earlier examples, once the thieves have your info, they commit fraud in a variety of ways: by opening and running up credit cards in your name; applying for a mortgage using your credit; filing unemployment claims; getting medical treatment using your health insurance benefits; filing a tax return in your name to steal the refund. The list goes on.
THE WARNING SIGNS
So how would you know if your identity had been stolen? The Federal Trade Commission offers some of the warning signs of identity theft on its website and we wanted to share some additional clues:
Clues Someone Has Stolen Your Information
- Your bills and or other mail stops showing up at your house. Read our blog post here about the First Thing You Should Check When You Discover You’re a Victim of Identity Theft.
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- Your electronically filed tax return is rejected.
- You see small test charges on your credit card, often for a minimal amount like a few bucks.
- You get two-factor authentication alerts you didn’t request, like a text message for a pin number to enter into a website you haven’t been trying to access.
- You get a notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
- You are rejected when you apply for a new credit card or credit account.
* Source: The Federal Trade Commission.
If your wallet, Social Security number, or other personal information is lost or stolen, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself from identity theft. This page shares good tips for what you should do if you know your information was exposed but have yet to see specific signs that your identity has been stolen.
Even better, sign up for LibertyID and protect yourself today. That way, when something happens, you’ll have someone to call. 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.
*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25