Identity Theft Protection

Signs You Could be a Victim of Identity Theft

Many people become victims of identity theft each year. Knowing the signs of identity theft will ensure you are aware if you become a victim. Once you discover that your information has been compromised, you can take steps to stop the thieves in their tracks.

Keep track of your accounts and ensure that no one has access to your identifying information, such as your Social Security number, account numbers, and even driver’s license number. Regularly monitor your credit reports from all three credit bureaus. At least once per year, review all entries on your credit reports just to ensure that identity thieves have not accessed any of your accounts or opened accounts using your personal information.

If you are the victim of identity theft, some signs will eventually appear. Beware of any of these signs and, if any of these signs occur, investigate your accounts, credit reports, and anyone who may have access to your personal information.

Unauthorized Charges

If you notice an unauthorized charge on your credit card or bank statement, investigate the charge. Identity thieves will access your accounts with a small charge just to ensure that the charge will go through. Identity thieves count on you not following up on the charge. However, the next unauthorized charge may wipe out your bank account or max out your credit card.

Dispute any unauthorized charge with the credit card company or bank. Explain that the charge was not made by you and force them to take action. If the credit card is a Visa, protection against unauthorized charges is part of this company’s service agreement. Dispute the charge on the phone and in writing. Follow up with any documentation that may be required. Don’t give an identity thief any opening to access your accounts.

If an account has been compromised, immediately cancel the card or close the account. Most credit card companies and banks are very helpful and will work with you to make sure that the card or account number is canceled and you are provided with a new card or account.

Collection Agencies Begin Calling You

If you pay your bills and pay them on time, there is no reason why a collection agency should be calling you. If you begin to receive calls from a collection agency, and you are sure that you have not incurred any charges that would necessitate collection from a credit agency, start investigating.

Talk to the collection agency and request the name of the creditor and the original account number. Explain that you suspect the debt may have been incurred by an identity thief. Request that they not call you anymore and request that they work with you to determine who incurred the debt.

Call the creditor and notify them that you did not incur the debt. Ask that the debt be reversed and notify them that you suspect that the debt is the result of identity theft. Most importantly, close the account with the creditor. If the creditor is a credit card, the identity thief has probably stolen a pre-approved credit card application from your mail. Install locks on your mail box or obtain a post office box.

You are Denied a Loan, a Job or an Apartment

If your credit is good, there is no reason why you should be denied a job or apartment based on your credit history. Though loans are more difficult to obtain in this economy, an individual with good credit should be able to acquire one. If you are denied a loan, a job or an apartment based on your credit, obtain a record of the report on which this decision was based. Investigate the entries that are damaging your credit score. Chances are, you are the victim of identity theft.

Take these steps to resolve the credit report entries:

  • Dispute the entries with the credit bureau.
  • Contact the creditor and immediately close any accounts you did not open.
  • Place a fraud alert on your Social Security number with the Social Security Administration and with each of the three credit bureaus.
  • Work with the creditor to get the charges reversed.
  • Report the issue to the police and the FBI.

Protecting yourself from identity theft means taking steps to secure your personal information, including your Social Security number. If you have become a victim of identity theft, take immediate action. Do not give the identity thief any time to cause additional damage to your good name.