Getting back to our education mode, today we reinforce the red flags to detect you may be a victim of identity theft. With so much information, we are breaking the post into a two part series. U.S. News spoke recently provided the following suggestions:
You find errors on your bank or credit-card statement. This is likely the first warning sign you encounter. When checking your paper or online statement, you might see an unexplained or inaccurate entry—a withdraw, a check, an electronic transaction, or a purchase that you don’t recognize.
You spot errors on your credit report. You request a copy of your credit report and notice inaccurate information. The most common indicators of identity theft are a credit inquiry you don’t recognize or a new account you didn’t open.
Your account is flagged. You might receive a phone call, letter, or email from your bank or brokerage notifying about an irregularity on your account. If it comes in the form of an email, make sure that it’s a legitimate email and not a phishing email (where a fraudster masquerades as a trusted entity to try to acquire your personal information).
Debt collectors are calling. A debt collector contacts you about accounts you know nothing about or problems with existing accounts that you’re unaware of.
There’s a warrant out for your arrest. Say you get stopped for a speeding ticket, and the police officer says there’s a warrant out for your arrest for a crime you’re totally unaware of. “Someone can most certainly use your identity and impersonate you to commit a crime,” says Susan Grant, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America.
You encounter problems with your medical insurance. You go in for a medical procedure and are informed that it won’t be covered by your insurance because it’s already happened. Or, more commonly, you receive bills for medical treatments that you never had, in which case someone used your identity and insurance to receive medical treatment.
If you’re a victim of financial identity theft, the first thing to do is contact your bank or financial institution. You should then conduct a full audit of your personal finances and identify any questionable transactions. This information will be useful when it comes time to dispute the charges.
No matter what, the earlier you catch identity theft, the better—so stay vigilant.
For more ID Theft resources visit www.hvshred.com