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How Do I Know if Someone is Stealing My Identity?

Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Jerome Donovan

Identity theft is a serious crime that can have serious consequences for your financial and personal life. It happens when someone obtains your personal information and uses it to commit fraud or other crimes in your name. So, How do I know if someone is stealing my identity? That’s the focus of this eye-opening article.

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With the increasing prevalence of online transactions and data breaches, it is critical to guard your personal information. In this article, we will look at some common signs of identity theft and offer advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. 

How do I know if someone is stealing my identity?

How do I know if someone is stealing my identity

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Identity theft is a growing concern in today’s digital age, and it can happen to anyone. Here’s a quick rundown of some signs that someone is stealing your identity.

  1. Unfamiliar credit card charge

If you notice an unusual credit card charge, it could mean that someone is stealing your identity. Thus, a strange credit charge is how I often know if someone is stealing my identity.

Credit card fraud is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with the rise of online shopping. Financial identity theft is a common form of identity theft, and credit cards are often the target.

If you set up alerts on your online banking portal or app. They will send you an email, call, or text message if a credit card charge seems suspicious. 

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  1. Rejection of a loan or credit card application

If your application for a loan or line of credit is turned down, you should find out why. It could mean that your credit score is lower than you thought, possibly because of fraud.

Someone could get new credit cards using your personal information and then not pay them back, leaving you responsible.

  1. Changes in your credit score

If your credit score goes up or down, it could be a sign that someone is stealing your identity. If someone takes out utility bills under your name and fails to pay them, your credit score may suffer.

To figure out what’s wrong, take a look at your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lets US customers get a free credit report once every twelve months. You can get a copy of yours from credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also pay for services to keep an eye on your credit score.

Keep in mind that a credit reporting company generally can report most negative information for 7 years, so you don’t want a scammer messing yours up.

  1. Unfamiliar account opening

Identity thieves may be able to open new accounts and credit cards in your name if they know enough about you, like your name and address.

When you review your credit record, look out for any new accounts that you didn’t open. Another sign to watch out for is receiving bank statements or bills addressed to you for accounts you don’t know.

  1. Data breach news

Another way to find out if someone is stealing your identity is to keep up with the news and be aware of any data breaches in companies that have your information. I follow the news about breaches closely to know if someone is stealing my identity.

Normally, businesses are required to notify customers of data breaches that may affect them. For example, if you store your payment information and home address on a music streaming service’s website and their database is hacked, identity thieves may gain access to your information. So, keep an eye out for alerts and read the news.

  1. Debt collectors contact you

If you receive calls from debt collectors referencing unfamiliar accounts, exercise caution and refrain from providing any personal information to the callers.

This could be a potential phishing scam. Instead, check your credit report for any newly opened accounts.

If someone has opened accounts under your name and failed to make payments, you could be held liable.

  1. You receive bills for medical services you didn’t use

Medical identity theft involves impersonating another person to obtain healthcare or supplies.

For instance, a fraudster might use your identity to acquire prescription medication from a pharmacy. If you receive unfamiliar medical bills, investigate further. Incorrect medical records could negatively affect your insurance premiums or hinder your access to healthcare in the future.

  1. Mail addressed to someone else arrives at your home

A sign that someone could be stealing your identity is if mail addressed to someone else arrives at your home. This may indicate synthetic identity theft.

Synthetic identity theft is when a criminal creates a fake identity using real information from multiple individuals. For instance, they might use your Social Security number, address, and someone else’s photo to fabricate a creditworthy profile. The fraudster can then open credit cards under the fake identity. 

  1. A tax return filed in your name

If you receive confirmation of an annual tax filing before submitting your own, beware! Criminals may file a tax return for someone else to access their tax refund.

Alternatively, you may discover that you cannot e-file your taxes because someone else has already filed under your name. 

How does identity theft happen?

Identity thieves require your personal information to steal your identity. Here are some of the most common methods they use to steal your identity

  1. Phishing scams

Phishing Scams can be in the form of mail, email, or websites, where an identity thief may pose as a trusted entity like your bank or insurance provider to extract personal data.

  1. Data breaches

Data Breaches occur when hackers target companies that store your data, such as healthcare or internet service providers, and leak or access your sensitive information, including payment details.

  1. Shoulder surfing

Shoulder Surfing involves identity thieves peering over your shoulder as you enter login details on your mobile device or ATM PIN, enabling them to steal your identity.

  1. Physical theft

Physical Theft, such as stealing your driver’s license or Social Security card, can provide enough information for criminals to commit identity fraud.

  1. Hacking

Hacking Devices through viruses or malware is another technique used by hackers, but antivirus software can help protect your devices.

Meanwhile, we covered whether or not a scammer can hack your phone through text message.

  1. Social media snooping

Social Media Snooping involves criminals looking for personal information, such as birth dates, home addresses, and even the names of your children or pets, which may be used in passwords.

  1. Dumpster diving

Dumpster Diving is a less tech-savvy approach to identity theft, where thieves search through your garbage for sensitive documents like bank account statements and pay stubs. Shredding paperwork before disposal can help prevent this.

What to do if I suspect that someone is stealing my identity?

If you suspect that you have been a victim of identity theft, you should take the following steps:

  1. Contact the companies involved in the fraud

If you believe your identity has been stolen, the first step is to contact the companies involved in the fraudulent activity.

Does it involve a credit or debit card? You should contact your bank or credit card issuer to cancel the card and issue a new one with a different number to avoid further unauthorized charges. Sometimes, it could even be that a family member stole your money. Contacting the financial institution involved will help you resolve the situation and get your money back.

  1. Change your account details

To prevent further fraud, you should also change the account details associated with your cards, such as usernames, PINs, and passwords.

  1. Report the theft to government agencies

Once your affected accounts have been secured, consider reporting the theft to government agencies.

This can help you gain access to resources and support while you work to repair the damage.

Filing a police report may be required, especially if it can assist law enforcement in apprehending the perpetrator.

  1. Examine your credit report

To be safe, go over your credit report for any information that could be the result of fraud. If you find any, contact the company that reported it and ask that it be removed.

If that doesn’t work, you can file a dispute with each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Regularly checking your credit reports can also alert you to fraud that you were previously unaware of.

  1. Freeze your account

You can add another layer of security by freezing your credit or setting up a free fraud alert. When lenders process new applications in your name, a fraud alert appears on your credit report, instructing them to take additional steps to verify your identity.

A credit freeze goes a step further, preventing new creditors from accessing your credit report until you unfreeze it. Lenders cannot approve new credit applications unless they have access to your credit report.

Read also: make a fool of a romance scammer with these tips

FAQs

What are the first signs of identity theft?

The first signs of identity theft can include unexpected credit or debit card charges, receiving bills for accounts you did not open, noticing unauthorized withdrawals from your bank account, or receiving calls from debt collectors for accounts you did not open.

Who is at high risk of identity theft?

People who regularly share personal information online, have weak passwords, use public Wi-Fi networks, have experienced a data breach, or have a low credit score are at high risk of identity theft. Also, children and the elderly are frequent targets.

What are the four methods of stealing a person’s identity?

Four methods of stealing a person’s identity include phishing scams, dumpster diving, skimming devices, and stealing physical documents containing personal information.

What are three common signs of identity theft?

Three common signs of identity theft are unauthorized transactions or withdrawals, unexplained credit score changes, and receiving bills or statements for accounts that you did not open or authorize.

Conclusion – know if someone is stealing my identity

The risk of having your identity stolen should not prevent you from taking advantage of the benefits of living in a connected world. You can avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of identity theft by staying informed and taking proactive steps to protect your identity.

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