Learn to spot signs of identity theft to help protect your finances.
by Lainie Petersen | June 7, 2013
Knowing identity theft signs can help you protect yourself from this crime. While identity theft is always difficult, if it's caught early, you can minimize its damage to your reputation and financial health. Unfortunately, some people don't realize that their credit, medical or even criminal records contain inaccuracies caused by the activity of identity thieves. Credit identity thieves use your personal information to apply for credit in your name, leaving you to deal with angry creditors and collectors.
Here Are Some Common Indicators of Identity Theft:
Unfamiliar activity on your credit reports: Regularly monitor your credit reports to look for new and unfamiliar accounts. If you see that unauthorized or unfamiliar activity has occurred, contact the credit bureau that issued the report right away.
Unexpected charges on your credit or bank account statements: Don't toss your bank and credit card statements without reviewing them. Review each charge and call your bank or credit card company to question any purchase that you don't recall making.
Letters or phone calls from unfamiliar creditors or bill collectors: If you start getting phone calls and letters from unknown creditors or bill collectors, take action. An identity thief has likely used your identity to open accounts and make purchases, leaving you with the bills. Children and the elderly can also be targets of identity thieves that operate in this way, so look out for similar communications to your children or to relatives in your care.
Inability to access online accounts: If you suddenly can't access bank or credit card account websites, contact your financial institutions immediately by phone. Someone may have stolen your passwords in an attempt to take over your accounts.
If you notice these identity theft signs, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report. You should also notify credit bureaus, credit card companies and banks to inform them about your situation, reverse any charges and remove inaccurate information. As a precaution, you may also want to place a fraud alert or security freeze on your credit reports, which provides you with additional layers of protection against an identity thief.
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This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should always seek the advice of a legal or financial professional before making legal or financial decisions.
The Difference Between a Fraud Alert and a Credit Freeze