Identity Theft Clues: Warning Signs of Trouble
Most of the time when identity theft strikes, you have no idea that it's happening. But there are certain clues that can tip you off to trouble in your finances. Knowing what to look for when you become a victim of identity theft can keep the situation from getting worse.
The most important thing you can do if you suspect identity theft has happened to you is to report it right away. Do not wait for more than one clue, begin investigating immediately! Here are places to look for clues and some common signs of identity theft.
Missing Checks or Checkbook
Keep an eye on those numbers in the top right corner of your personal checks. If there is a break in the check numbering sequence, you may have had some checks stolen. Notify your bank and have them stop payment on any missing checks. You can also choose to completely close your checking account and open a new one.
Remember to keep your personal checks in a safe location in the future. You can also have the phrase "Check Photo ID Before Accepting" printed in the upper left of corner of your personal checks. This will make it less likely that a forger will attempt to use any stolen checks. At Check Advantage, we offer five lines of personal information so there's plenty of room to add this security measure when you order checks.
Check Your Statements
Look over your monthly bank statement and credit card statements for charges or payments you don't recognize. Are there any personal checks that you didn't write? Was your credit card or debit card used to purchase something you don't remember purchasing?
These are red flags that you can only catch if you review your bank and credit card statements regularly.
Check Your Credit Report
Get a copy of your credit report at least once every year. Check for accuracy and look for unfamiliar accounts or loans both active and cancelled that may be having an effect on your credit score. Another warning sign you may find through your credit report is inquiries into your credit from companies that you've never done business with.
You can receive your credit report from any of the three major credit agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Report any inaccuracies you discover to these agencies.
Check Your Medical Records
If you get hospital bills for treatments you never received, or your health care provider asks you about an illness or issue you don't have - someone may be using your identity to get medical assistance or even health insurance coverage. A sudden increase in health insurance premium can be another sign of identity fraud.
Missing and Unexpected Bills
If you are expecting to receive a bill and it never shows up, it may have been stolen right out of your mailbox. Thieves can use bills to get your personal information and open up new lines of credit under your name. When bills don't show up - never assume you can get away without paying. Take action and contact the company to find out more.
The same goes for receiving bills or calls from a collection agency for items or services you have never purchased. Don't pay these bills. But don't ignore them either. Someone may be using your identity illegally.
Another clue of identity theft through the mail is getting a notification of mail redirection, which you never requested. Contact the post office right away to correct the situation.
Denied Employment or Credit
If you are unexpectedly denied a job or an application for a loan or credit card, but you are confident your credit is good, it may be a sign that someone has stolen your identity.
When a potential employer is first interested in you, but turns you down after running a pre-employment background check it could be a clue to identity theft problems.
Besides being denied credit you applied for, you may also get denied for loans or credit cards for which you did not apply. You may also get a credit card in the mail that you never requested. This is a sign that someone is attempting to use your identity to fraudulently open lines of credit.
Social Security Statement
Each year the Social Security Administrations sends you a statement showing your income and how much went to social security. If the income the agency claims you earned is thousands of dollars higher than you expected, someone may have used your identity to gain employment.
More information: What to Do When Identity Theft Happens to You