Beware of These 7 Signs of Identity Theft
If you don’t think that monitoring your credit or bank accounts for signs of identity theft is a priority, you might want to think again. 14.4 million people fell victim to identity fraud in 2018, according to Javelin Strategy & Research data, accounting for $14.7 billion in losses thanks to identity thieves.
To protect your personal finances as much as possible, you’ll want to spot unusual activity on your credit report and credit cards as quickly as possible. Consider these seven scenarios that could hint at potential identity theft:
1. Unexplained transactions on your credit and bank accounts
An obvious giveaway that your bank or credit card accounts have been hacked is a list of charges you don’t remember making. If you don’t check your statements regularly, however, they could be easy to overlook. Here’s why.
A common practice among identity thieves is to make one or two small charges first to test the waters. If these go unnoticed, they may get bolder and start making larger charges and, by the time you catch on, the damage has been done.
Luckily, there’s an easy work-around: You can set an alert with your bank or credit card account to let you know any time a new transaction hits your account.
2. Your credit card is declined
Having your credit card declined out of the blue can be a shock, especially if you’ve always had good credit. Unfortunately, it’s another one of the signs of identity theft you need to watch out for. A declined card could mean that an identity thief has made fraudulent charges up to your available credit limit, or has opened fraudulent accounts in your name and skipped out on the bill, which could cause your credit score to drop.
3. You’re flooded with calls or notices from debt collectors
Being hounded by debt collectors is annoying, especially when it’s connected to a debt you’re sure you don’t owe. If debt collectors are calling you day and night or sending letters to your home, don’t ignore them. They could be a sign that an identity thief has racked up credit card bills in your name or taken out a loan using your personal information.
4. You’re denied for new credit
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.
For example, if you’re told that you were denied because of multiple derogatory items on your credit report when your credit has always been clean, that could suggest that someone has been using your information without your knowledge.
5. There’s new information on your credit report that you don’t recognize
Checking your credit report periodically can go a long way toward heading off identity theft. If you see an inquiry for a credit card or loan that you don’t remember applying for, or a brand-new account you don’t recognize, those are tip-offs that your information may have been stolen.
6. You get a credit card in the mail you didn’t apply for
Credit card companies aren’t in the habit of sending credit cards to your home unless you’ve opened a new account or one of your existing cards is on the verge of expiring. If a new piece of plastic shows up in your mailbox unexpectedly, don’t write it off as a mistake and toss it in the trash. Call the credit card company ASAP to find out why the card has been issued if it’s not one you remember applying for.
7. Bank account or credit card statements go missing from your mail
If you still get paper statements versus electronic ones for your bank or credit card accounts, it’s important to make sure they’re showing up each month. If you notice that your statement seems to have pulled a vanishing act, call the bank or credit card company to verify that it was sent out. Then, double-check the mailing address on file to make sure an identity thief isn’t having the statements rerouted to cover their tracks.
Discover identity theft protection
To help combat these seven threats, Discover cardmembers have yet another option for helping to protect their identities and personally identifiable information:
Discover offers Identity Theft Protection for just $15 per month.1 This comprehensive service monitors all three credit bureaus for key changes, thousands of dark websites for SSN and more for potential threats to your identity. In the case of ID theft, You can access up to $1 million of Identity theft insurance for legal expense, reimbursement of stolen funds, lost wages and more covered expenses — and count on expert service from 100 percent U. S.-based fraud resolution specialists.
It can seem like your digital identity is everywhere, so it’s smart to do something to help protect it. By applying some common sense in how you handle your sensitive information — and taking advantage of the various programs that are available — you may be able to enjoy some added peace of mind if you’re concerned about identity thieves having a field day with your finances.
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