According to Norton*, there are 9 warning signs of identity theft:
- Your bank statement doesn’t look right or your checks bounce – check your account regularly. If a transaction doesn’t look right, contact your financial institution immediately. You never know if someone might have access to your account.
- You see unfamiliar and unauthorized activity on your credit card or credit report – If someone has stolen your credit card number and made fraudulent purchases, contact the merchant and card issuer to alert them to the fraudulent charges. Ask the card issuer to close the account and issue you a new card, and update automatic payments to your new card.
- Your bills are missing or you receive unfamiliar bills – Sometimes identity thieves will steal their victim’s mail by changing their mailing address. If your bills are missing, this may be a warning sign of identity theft. Criminals can then gather information from your mail and piece it together to open new accounts in your name.
- Your cellphone or another utility loses service – Somehow, someone may have access to your cellphone provider’s online portal and made changes. Cell your provider immediately.
- You receive calls from debt collectors – It’s possible someone to use your name and personal information to rack up debts. Another warning sign of identity theft is if you begin to receive calls from creditors asking about unpaid bills you don’t recognize. Contact the three credit reporting agencies quickly (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).
- Your medical bill doesn’t add up, or your medical claim is denied – If you get a medical bill for a service you didn’t receive or your medical claim is rejected because you have already reached your benefits limit, unbeknown to you, it’s likely something isn’t right. An ID thief could give your information in a medical emergency or at a doctor’s office, which could negatively affect your medical benefits eligibility or result in someone else’s medical history ending up in your health records. Such discrepancies could be harmful to your health and future treatment. How? The healthcare provider will have incorrect information about you and could prescribe the wrong treatment. Keep an eye on any medical bills or statements of benefits you receive to help detect this warning sign of identity theft. If you suspect you’re a victim, call your healthcare provider and health insurance company right away.
- You’re unable to file taxes because someone has already filed a tax return in your name – Someone may have stolen your social security number and used it to file taxes to get a sizable refund. Contact the FTC immediately and your local police department.
- There’s a warrant out for your arrest – Someone who has your Social Security number could use your name and personal information if they are taken in by law enforcement for criminal activity. If someone gives your identity when arrested, this could lead to an arrest warrant for you. Contact your local law enforcement immediately.
- You’re notified that your information was exposed in a data breach
Four steps to take if you suspect you have become a victim
- The first step you should take if you suspect you have become the victim of identity theft is to call your financial institution immediately. Contact your bank as well as your credit card companies, and let them know you have found evidence of theft or fraud. Close your financial accounts.
- Next, report the suspected theft or fraud to your local police department and fill out a police report. This will formalize your case, and start you on the road to remedying the situation with your creditors. Be sure to get a copy of the police report and note the report number for when you speak with financial institutions and the credit bureaus.
- Contact the three credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. They will flag your account and put a fraud alert on it, letting potential creditors know that new credit can’t be given in your name without your approval.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/idtheft or 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) to report the identity theft to the federal government and fill out an ID theft affidavit that will help you communicate with companies, financial institutions, and creditors about what happened.