Identity theft is stressful, and it can do tremendous damage to your finances. It’s important to recognize the signs early. The earlier you notice something is amiss, the faster you can take action to minimize the damage.
Here’s how to recognize the signs of identity theft as soon as possible:
You receive statements or bills in the mail for accounts you never opened. If you get a bill for an account you didn’t authorize, someone may have gotten a hold of your personal information and opened an account in your name. Contact the company immediately to find out if there’s been a mistake and check your credit report for unusual activity.
You are surprised by being denied a loan or credit. You may think you have great credit, but if you apply for a credit card or loan and are shocked to find that you’ve been rejected, you may be the victim of identity theft. Thieves can open accounts in your name, run up the bill, and then default on payments, ruining your credit before you know what they’ve been up to. Check your credit report a few times a year to make sure no one has opened any credit accounts in your name.
Your regular bills stop showing up in the mail. If you haven’t signed up to go paperless and your bills stop showing up in the mail, it could be a sign that someone has changed your billing address. Contact your creditors and inquire if they sent the bill and if the address they have on file is correct.
You notice suspicious activity in your bank account. Unfamiliar charges, new accounts, and withdrawals you didn’t make are all signs of identity theft. Review your bank account regularly to make sure no one has access to your funds.
You notice suspicious charges on your credit card. Scammers may make a small charge on your account first to test out their information, hoping you won’t notice. If you notice any strange charges on your credit card bill, report them immediately. Even a small inconsistency can be a sign of fraud.