Identity Theft

7 Signs of Identity Theft You Should Never Ignore

What is your most important possession? Is it your house, or perhaps your car? Maybe you’d choose an important family heirloom?

Actually, your most important possession isn’t a physical object at all. It’s your identity. Yet many people fail to realize that your identity is just as vulnerable to theft as a car or a treasured keepsake.

Identity theft is a serious problem that affects millions of people a year. Roughly one third of American adults have experienced identity theft in their lifetime. You might be a victim of identity theft without even realizing it.

If you want to know how to prevent identity theft, there are a few things you need to look out for. Read on to identify seven common signs of identity theft.

1. Charges You Don’t Recognize

One of the most obvious identity theft signs is finding unauthorized charges to your bank account. If you receive a bank statement that lists purchases you didn’t make, you’re likely a victim of identity theft.

These charges can occur in several ways. Often, they result from a lost or stolen credit card. That’s why it’s important to quickly cancel any cards you lose track of.

Even if you still have the physical card, someone may have been able to obtain your credit card number online. Disreputable websites, or sites with poor security, can end up leaking your card information.

It’s important that you only make purchases from trusted sites. Being selective about where you use your credit card is the first step toward identity theft prevention!

The same goes for bank account information. If someone gets access to your routing and account number, they can access the money in your account.

2. Contact From Debt Collectors

Have you been receiving letters or calls for debt collectors, even though you don’t owe anything? This is another possible sign of identity theft. Someone may have accumulated debt in your name.

This can happen in a number of ways. For example, someone may have taken out a credit card in your name and gone on a spending spree.

It’s also possible that a loan has been taken out in your name, or some new account has been opened using your information.

Luckily, debt collectors aren’t the only way to detect fraudulent credit card accounts or loans.

3. New Items on a Credit Report

The same things that might put debt collectors on your case will often show up on a credit report. If you’re looking at your credit report and you see items you don’t recognize, it could be cause for alarm.

Check for accounts that don’t seem familiar, especially loans or new credit cards. You should also keep an eye out for credit inquiries in odd places, as these can be another tip-off that someone is messing with your credit.

Check your credit report regularly to make sure everything is in order!

4. Credit Applications Are Denied

On the topic of credit, let’s talk about another sign of identity fraud. If you’ve always had a clean credit score, but you’re suddenly denied a loan because you have bad credit, it could be the result of identity theft.

In this scenario, it’s likely that someone has been opening accounts or getting loans in your name, then leaving you to deal with the consequences.

This is another reason to check your credit report as frequently as you’re able. The last thing you want is to be surprised by bad credit that prevents you from obtaining a much-needed loan.

5. Receiving Strange Bills

Everyone hates receiving a bill in the mail, but what if it’s a bill for something you didn’t even purchase? If you’re getting billed for something you don’t recognize, you may be the victim of identity theft.

Much like the debt collection example above, this is a strong sign that someone is spending money in your name, or at least using information like your address.

If you get a bill for something you never bought (or for a credit card you didn’t open), it’s a sign to check your bank statement and credit report. Then you can see if it was a simple mistake or something more sinister.

6. Missing Important Messages

Getting strange mail is one of the signs of identity theft… but not receiving expected mail can be a warning sign, too. If you aren’t receiving important documents like bank statements, there may be an identity thief at work.

It’s possible that the person stealing your identity is local, in which case they may be taking mail from your mailbox. That may even be how they obtained your information in the first place.

It could also be that the thief filed a change of address, preventing you from seeing some important mail. Some thieves do this so that you won’t notice fraudulent charges on your bank or credit card statement.

7. Declined Credit Card

If you’ve ever had your credit card unexpectedly declined, you know how disorienting the experience can be. What you might not realize is that it can be a sign of identity theft.

It’s possible that someone has accessed your funds and spent enough to reach your credit limit. They may also have tanked your credit score through unpaid loans or credit card accounts.

Dealing With Signs of Identity Theft

Identity theft can be devastating, but you don’t have to go through it alone. You can deal with the fallout of identity theft with the help of an ID theft attorney.

An attorney can help you understand your rights in an identity theft case, making sure you take advantage of the many protections offered to you.

They can also assist you in disputing fraudulent credit report information, freezing your credit report until things are sorted out, and more.

Keep Yourself Protected

Identity theft is an increasingly common issue, but it’s one that can handle quickly if you spot the signs early enough. With the help of this guide, you now know exactly what to look out for.

There are many other legal situations that it pays to learn about. Check our blog for the latest legal resources to keep yourself prepared for anything!

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