What are the signs of ID theft? Identity theft is a major issue in the United States. It affects millions of people each year. It can even affect your retirement plans. In this post, we’ll discuss what it is, its effects and what you should do next if you suspect you’re a victim.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes in your name. It can happen to you if you are careless with your personal information, or if you have sensitive data that criminals want to steal, such as credit card numbers or Social Security numbers.
Millions of families endure identity theft annually. In 2021, 42 million Americans were victims of identity fraud, costing $52 billion. Identity theft can be reduced if caught early. Here are some techniques to detect and avoid identity theft.
How ID Theft Occurs
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information for financial benefit. Thieves can get your information in two ways:
- Traditional identity fraud involves stealing your data without contacting you. You may never know how a thief got your information if you’re a victim.
- Identity fraud scams contact you to get critical information. You should know when and how the criminal took from you.
Traditional methods include stealing documents from your mailbox, trash, or wallet, exploiting data breaches, and adding skimmers to card readers to record your payment details.
Identity fraud scams generally involve phone, email, or social media communication. They may promise you a prize, threaten you with arrest, or pose as an attractive person with amorous intentions.
This list is far from complete and it’s virtually impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all types of id-theft-related fraud. But it’s worth learning the most popular.
Common Warning Signs of Identity Theft
If you’re not looking for it, identity theft might be hard to spot. Every day the problem goes unnoticed, and the harm will be worse and require longer to remedy. To discover identity theft early, you must know the most prevalent indications. Here are red flags.
Unrecognizable purchases on credit card or bank account statements are a common sign of identity theft. Someone has hacked your account and is making unlawful purchases or withdrawals.
Initial sums won’t be significant. Thieves typically make modest purchases to confirm that they can use your account.
You Notice Credit Report Errors
Strange credit accounts are another indicator of identity theft. Thefts often exploit personal information to open credit accounts in your name.
They might locate one of your credit card statements in the garbage and use it to apply for a new card. They’d max out the account and go, leaving you to pay.
Identity thieves can divert your email or snail mail bills to an address they can access. If you haven’t gotten recent bills, it may imply identity theft.
If thieves get your bills, they may commit identity fraud. They may be hiding their own activity while charging the hijacked account.
Bills or Correspondence
Not an “early” symptom of identity theft, but worth mentioning. If you receive strange bills, debt collector calls, or letters concerning unfamiliar activities, it could be a sign of ID theft.
This might emerge in numerous ways, some unexpected. Thieves may use your information to claim unemployment benefits, acquire billed-to-you healthcare, or start utility accounts.
This usually signifies the issue has advanced. Never dismiss a letter or bill you don’t recognize as a mistake or mix-up.
Tax Return Issues
Identity thieves sometimes file false tax returns and cash in on refunds using stolen information. People discover when their tax return is rejected because someone else used their SSN.
You may also receive IRS mail (IRS). This may be a letter asking about a possible fraudulent return, a tax transcript you didn’t seek, or a notice that someone registered an online IRS account in your name.
Even if you do everything to secure your identity, identity thieves can still obtain your information. You may be exposed if a company with your data experiences a data breach. These incidents must be reported by law. If your information is hacked, you must act to avoid being victimized.
Identity Theft Checklist
- While it’s best to avoid being a victim of identity theft, it still does happen. You need to keep an eye out for signs of identity theft.
- Given these indications, the best ways to screen for identity theft are:
- Be on the lookout for unexpected behavior on your bank and credit card statements
- Look over your credit reports for any tradelines you are unfamiliar with.
- Be on the lookout for any missing or unusual mail.
- Data breaches may occur at companies that hold your personal information.
You must protect yourself online as the world becomes increasingly digital. Adopting these measures can help you boost your defenses.
- A strong password is required for each and every one of your online accounts and websites.
- Using a phone or app, enable two-factor authentication.
- Install the latest version of your anti-virus program.
- Avoid clicking on links that could be hazardous.
- Social media privacy settings should be checked.
- Use a VPN
As before, the risk of data theft when utilizing the internet cannot be eliminated. Taking these steps can help to reduce your chances of an accident. It’s time to revisit online safety if you haven’t already.
Everyday Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself
Unfortunately, robbers are able to steal both in person and over the internet. In order to lessen your vulnerability, here are a few tips:
- Sign up for e-invoices.
- P.O. Drop-in boxes and mailboxes keep the mail safe.
- You should get a shredder and shred your documents before throwing them away.
- Carry no critical information
- Passports are safe at home.
- Avoid skimming by using mobile payment apps instead of credit or debit cards.
It’s difficult to get rid of physical copies of private information. Passports, driver’s licenses, and credit and debit cards must be printed out. Avoiding the use of paper records can assist prevent the theft of one’s personal information.
Crooks are now targeting consumers directly rather than compromising their accounts or digging through their garbage since identity theft defenses have improved. It’s possible to learn some of their methods, but not all of them. Every day, scammers find new ways to defraud people. You must stay vigilant. For instance, be careful every time someone asks you for sensitive personal information.
If you’ve filled a victim to ID theft, you can find help by visiting IdentityTheft.gov. It’s a federal website where you may report an incident and build a rehabilitation plan that’s unique to you.