7 Warning Signs Of Identity Theft
Could you be a victim of identity theft? Millions of Americans have their personal information compromised each year. Often, the stolen information is used to take over accounts, open credit cards or obtain medical care long before the theft is ever discovered. While many people first find out about identity fraud from their financial institutions, there are some red flags that indicate your personal information may have been stolen and used for fraudulent purposes.
7 Warning Signs Of Identity Theft
Cleaning up the mess an identity thief leaves behind can be difficult, so spotting these nine warning signs early by monitoring your accounts, bills, and credit reports can help protect your identity and finances.
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America with tens of millions of victims every single year [*]. Even worse, the latest research shows that over 50% of identity theft victims are repeat victims [*].
As with many other warning signs on this list, check your credit report in the event of fraud. If you notice any suspicious activity, contact the merchants and your financial institutions immediately.
In this type of identity theft, a fraudster poses as you in order to receive healthcare. The scammer will receive free medical treatment under your insurance policy, depleting your health coverage and leaving you uncovered.
A clear warning sign of tax identity fraud is if someone has fraudulently filed taxes under your name. If you get a notification from the IRS before you actually filed your taxes, this is a red flag.
The motivation? Scammers want to claim your tax return payout. If this happens, report it to the IRS, the Federal Trade Commission, and be sure to file a police report for identity theft.
Another common form of tax fraud is when someone else uses your Social Security number to get a job. This is often done to avoid a background check or prove eligibility for hiring. (Even worse, it's very difficult to change your Social Security number, even after identity theft.)
Data breaches and criminals trafficking in stolen personal information can allow thieves to hijack your identity even if you've never been taken in by a scam like phishing, vishing or smishing. That's why it's vital to watch for signs your identity has been compromised in addition to anticipating and avoiding scams that target you directly.
Identity theft is an ever-present threat in the digital age, and watching out for signs of fraudulent activity is one important part of protecting yourself. Paying attention to your bills, bank statements and credit statements is vital, and so is checking your credit reports regularly. Free credit monitoring from Experian, which alerts you to activity on your Experian credit report and changes in FICO Score based on Experian data, can automate some of that, and help keep your hard-earned credit safe from criminals.
Know some warning signs that there might be something going on behind the scenes. Identity theft is a very real thing and probably more common than most people would expect. We have compiled a list of red flags to be aware of that might mean someone has your personal information.
If you notice a few of your bills or account statements have not arrived in the mail as usual, this could be a sign of identity theft. Thieves have been known to steal these items out of mailboxes in order to obtain your personal information and set up accounts for themselves under your name. If you do notice bills or statements missing, start by checking with the company to see if there has been any new activity on your accounts. Enrolling in eStatements will also help you avoid possible mail fraud.
NOTE: The IRS will never call you about issues on your account. They will only send you notices in the mail. If you receive a phone call from the IRS, this is most likely another identity theft scam. If you are unsure, hang up and call the IRS back directly from their phone number listed on www.irs.gov.
Monitoring your online habits, making sure any personal information requests are from a legitimate source and protecting your devices from malicious software are a few important ways to protect yourself from identity theft.
In some cases, you may not see the signs of identity theft until you try to apply for a new credit card or loan in your name. You may be expecting to get the stamp of approval but instead, your application is denied and the explanation seems totally out of left field.
If you believe your information may have been stolen and used fraudulently, it can be hard to know what to do and where to report it. So, here are a few things to consider if you believe you're a victim of identity theft:
Submit an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission online at www.identitytheft.gov. By reporting your theft online, you can receive an identity theft report and a recovery plan. If you create an account on the website, you can update your plan, track progress and receive form letters to send to creditors.
Unfortunately, being a victim of identity theft means your credit scores may be negatively impacted. Thieves could open new lines of credit or credit cards in your name -- and fail to pay the bills. As debt accumulates and payments are missed, your scores may be negatively affected, because of the payment history associated with the accounts or the increase in your credit utilization. Learn more about what actions can affect credit scores.
Per the Fair Credit Billing Act, most credit card companies have protections for those affected by identity theft, like zero-liability policies. The law also sets the maximum liability for unauthorized charges at $50.
If you are a victim of identity theft, consider keeping a security freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports while you work to undo any damage. Being vigilant against signs of identity theft and catching the theft or fraud early can help keep the damages to a minimum.
Using stolen information from a data breach, cybercriminals may attempt to steal classified information or money from the victim. Identity theft victims often do not know they have been compromised until after an identity breach has occurred.
Potential victims may notice initial warning signs of financial theft if they notice any sudden changes to their credit scores or large withdrawals from their bank accounts. Everyone should use free credit monitoring services at least once a month to ensure no suspicious activity has occurred.
Victims of criminal identity theft may receive arrest warrants or court summons for a crime they did not commit, which can result in a false arrest, loan denial, or criminal activity in a background check or police report.
Background: Medical identity theft refers to the misuse of another individual's identifying medical information to receive medical care. Beyond the financial burden on patients, hospitals, health insurance companies, and government insurance programs, undetected cases pose major patient safety challenges. Inaccuracies in the medical record may persist even after the theft has been identified because of restrictions imposed by patient privacy laws. Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH; Boston) has conducted initiatives to prevent medical identity theft and to better identify and respond to cases when they occur.
Methods: Since 2007, MGH has used a notification tree to standardize reporting of red flag incidents (warning signs of identity theft, such as suspicious personal identifiers or account activity). A Data Integrity Dashboard allows for tracking and reviewing of all potential incidents of medical identity theft to detect trends and targets for mitigation. An identity-checking policy, VERI-(Verify Everyone's Identity) Safe Patient Care, requires photo identification at every visit and follow-up if it is not provided.
Results: Data from MGH suggest that an estimated 120 duplicate medical records are created each month, 25 patient encounters are likely tied to identity theft or fraud each quarter, and 14 patients are treated under the wrong medical record number each year. As of December 2013, 80%-85% of patients were showing photo identification at appointments.
Conclusion: Although an organization's policy changes and educational campaigns can improve detection and reconciliation of medical identity theft cases, national policies should be implemented to streamline the process of correcting errors in medical records, reduce the financial disincentive for hospitals to detect and report cases, and create a single point of entry to reduce the burden on individuals and providers to reconcile cases.
*In accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, your consumer report will be sent to you within 3 calendar days if you notify Early Warning that you have been a victim of identity theft and you provide the information required by the Act.
The first step to take if someone has stolen your identity is to report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at IdentityTheft.gov. You can also call them at 1-877-438-4338. From there, you can freeze your credit reports, file a police report, and change all your login and password information. It would also be wise to close your current credit and debit cards and receive new ones. Check your credit reports for false accounts and dispute these with the credit agencies once you have a report from the FTC."}},"@type": "Question","name": "What Are the First Signs of Identity Theft?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "The first signs of identity theft are unexplainable charges on your credit card or debit card statements, new cards that you did not apply for, incorrect items on your credit report, medical bills for doctor's visits that you did not have, and collection notices for accounts that you did not open.","@type": "Question","name": "What Are the 3 Types of Identity Theft?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "The three main types of identity theft are medical identity theft, financial identity theft, and online identity theft."]}]}] Investing Stocks Bonds Fixed Income Mutual Funds ETFs Options 401(k) Roth IRA Fundamental Analysis Technical Analysis Markets View All Simulator Login / Portfolio Trade Research My Games Leaderboard Economy Government Policy Monetary Policy Fiscal Policy View All Personal Finance Financial Literacy Retirement Budgeting Saving Taxes Home Ownership View All News Markets Companies Earnings Economy Crypto Personal Finance Government View All Reviews Best Online Brokers Best Life Insurance Companies Best CD Rates Best Savings Accounts Best Personal Loans Best Credit Repair Companies Best Mortgage Rates Best Auto Loan Rates Best Credit Cards View All Academy Investing for Beginners Trading for Beginners Become a Day Trader Technical Analysis All Investing Courses All Trading Courses View All TradeSearchSearchPlease fill out this field.SearchSearchPlease fill out this field.InvestingInvesting Stocks Bonds Fixed Income Mutual Funds ETFs Options 401(k) Roth IRA Fundamental Analysis Technical Analysis Markets View All SimulatorSimulator Login / Portfolio Trade Research My Games Leaderboard EconomyEconomy Government Policy Monetary Policy Fiscal Policy View All Personal FinancePersonal Finance Financial Literacy Retirement Budgeting Saving Taxes Home Ownership View All NewsNews Markets Companies Earnings Economy Crypto Personal Finance Government View All ReviewsReviews Best Online Brokers Best Life Insurance Companies Best CD Rates Best Savings Accounts Best Personal Loans Best Credit Repair Companies Best Mortgage Rates Best Auto Loan Rates Best Credit Cards View All AcademyAcademy Investing for Beginners Trading for Beginners Become a Day Trader Technical Analysis All Investing Courses All Trading Courses View All Financial Terms Newsletter About Us Follow Us Facebook Instagram LinkedIn TikTok Twitter YouTube Table of ContentsExpandTable of ContentsWhat Is Identity Theft?Understanding Identity TheftTypesWarning SignsPotential VictimsIdentity Theft ProtectionHow to RecoverIdentity Theft FAQsThe Bottom LinePersonal FinanceFinancial FraudWhat Is Identity Theft? Definition, Types, and ExamplesByAli Hussain Full BioAli Hussain has a background that consists of a career in finance with large financial institutions and in journalism covering business.Learn about our editorial policiesUpdated September 21, 2022Reviewed by 041b061a72