Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen (and what to do about it)
In the U.S., a person’s identity is stolen every two seconds. A thief might use your personal information to open new credit accounts, enter a cell phone service contract, or even obtain government benefits.
Below are signs that your identity has been stolen and what to do about it.
- Unauthorized purchases on your credit or bank accounts Check your bank, savings, and credit card account statements to ensure only the charges you recognize are listed. If you notice any purchases that you did not authorize, report them to the company immediately. Additionally, request that the companies issue a fraud alert on your account and then cancel and reissue debit and credit cards.
- Credit application with your personal information It is easy to toss offers of credit by mail directly into the garbage. However, take the time to open and check all credit applications you receive from businesses (like banks, phone companies, and insurance companies). If you see an application that has been prefilled, contact the company to inquire about it. They may have legitimate sources of your information, but if not, it could be a sign someone else is impersonating you.
- Unfamiliar inquiries on your credit report If you notice unfamiliar inquiries on your credit report, it is a possible sign of fraud. Unknown inquiries are when someone checks your credit because they are considering doing business with you. An investigation can occur if a company asks to check your credit as part of an application process, such as applying for a cell phone. If you do not recognize the inquiry, contact the credit reporting agency to find out more about it.
One of the best practices you can follow is to always check your credit reports, review bank and credit card statements, and carefully scan incoming mail on a regular basis before someone steals your identity. Staying proactive when it comes to your identity could prevent hours of time and unnecessary money from being spent on getting it back if it were to become stolen.