Identity theft is increasingly becoming a real threat for many Americans, as we continue to rely heavily on the internet for sending and storing our financial and personal information. It is easy to become complacent, believing our information is safe, while remaining vulnerable in this age of information. It is important to stay vigilant and pay attention to what is happening with all of your accounts and information, to give yourself the best chance at catching attempted identity theft, or mitigating the damage, should it occur.
In part 1, of this two blog series, you will see three common warning signs of identity theft, and stay tuned for part 2, where we will share FOUR more ways to catch someone trying to steal your information.
Here are multiple warning signs that your identity may be in jeopardy:
Unexplained charges, withdrawals or accounts.
Paying attention to small charges that seem unfamiliar, and inquiring quickly, could save you from a word of trouble. Knowing your finances and what charges to expect can allow you to catch identity theft before it has a chance to begin. Another good way to catch strange activity would be to routinely check your account statements, and follow up on any activity that seems unusual. Keep an eye on your snail mail as well, as statements for unknown accounts may show up and are a big red flag.
Credit cards you didn’t apply for.
Receiving mail about unexpected credit card applications in your name is a strong sign someone is trying to use your information. If you receive either a new credit card in the mail, or information that an application has been submitted, contact the issuing company right away. You may even receive information from a credit card company informing you that they found some suspicious activity in your name, requesting you to take further action. Do not ignore these attempts, and make sure to always follow up with a credit bureau if suspicious activity of any kind is brought to your attention. Adding a temporary fraud alert to your credit report is a good action to take and will make it harder for people to access your credit and use it to apply for cards or loans in your name.
Errors on your credit report.
Review your credit reports for any suspicious activity, such as accounts you didn’t open. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from EACH of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. This is a service you should take advantage of, not only to keep an eye on fraudulent activities, but also to catch any mistakes the credit reporting agencies may make in your name.
Credit bureaus, government agencies, banks, and the like, do their best to catch fraudulent activities, however, the best way to catch fraudulent activity is to remain an active participant and surveyor of your own accounts and activity. Determining a monthly budget will make it easier to spot unusual activity in your accounts. Making it a habit to check statements monthly and credit reports annually, while it may be a pain, will be a fraction of the effort you will have to endure if your identity is, in fact, stolen.
If you have any questions, call Dolaghan Law at (904) 354-4935. It’s always a good idea to consult a professional, or expert for specific information on how certain laws apply to you and about your individual financial situation.