Identity Theft Alert: 7 Red Flags that Indicate Your Identity Has Been Stolen

identity theftIdentity Theft: Are You Protected?

Identity theft in 2016 increased 16% from the previous year. It affected a record 15.4 million Americans and stole over $16 billion. Do not let thieves take your hard-earned money through identity theft. These seven red flags update you on your credit’s status and prevent serious credit fraud via identity theft.

1. A Flag on Your Account

Credit card companies also lose when you experience identity theft. Banks and brokers monitor credit card accounts carefully.  If they spot an irregularity, you get an alert. If you receive a phone call, letter, or e-mail regarding a line of credit, do not ignore it. There may be important information regarding your credit and possible fraud. Criminals count on peoples’ apathy to get away with identity theft.

2. An Error on Your Statement

If something looks off on your monthly statement, follow up with your bank. Errors on your statement often signal fraudulent activity. Even if it turns out to be a legitimate purchase, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to identity theft.

3. A Call from a Debt Collector

As tempting as it is to ignore debt collectors, don’t do it- even if you are sure it is a mistake. If you don’t recognize the account, an identity thief opened it. If the account is yours but the charge is mistaken, contact your credit card company and report the incident. Picking up the phone when a debt collector calls protects your credit. However, be careful when you do talk to them and be sure to say that providing your information in no way validates the debt they are inquiring about.

4. A Strange Medical Bill

A common form of identity theft involves insurance fraud. If you receive a bill for a medical procedure you did not get; someone else used your identity and insurance for themselves. This is a very serious offense. If you get a strange medical bill or your doctor’s office says they can’t provide something that should be covered, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report possible fraud.

5. A Change of Address Notice

An unprompted change of address notice alerts you to possible identity theft. By redirecting your mail to a new address, thieves collect personal information and use it to steal your identity. A change of address notice is not the only strange piece of mail that signals credit fraud. Also look for notices of a new open accounts or a physical credit cards for which you never applied.

6. A Warrant for Your Arrest

A standard traffic violation becomes a stickier situation when a criminal steals your identity. If a police officer says, there is a warrant out for your arrest for a crime you didn’t commit, comply with the officer and let them know you suspect your identity was stolen. Criminals steal identities to commit further crimes, leaving you vulnerable.

7. An Error on Your Credit Report

If you check your yearly credit report and see something weird like an account you never opened, that signals that an identity thief targeted you. Some people wait to check their credit report until they are buying a house or another large purchase. Stay ahead of fraud by checking your credit report annually whether you make a big investment or not.

 

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