A young lady sitting near the sofa with her laptop laughs as her dog hugs her from behind

Beware of These 7 Signs of Identity Theft

Last Updated: October 25, 2023
4 min read

Key points about: ways to check for identity theft

  1. Regularly reviewing your credit card statements and credit report can help you catch signs of identity theft.

  2. If you see unusual charges on your credit card statement–even just a few cents–it could mean your information is compromised.

  3. Discover offers Identity Theft Protection to help monitor and protect your information.

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. Anybody could be vulnerable to identity theft. To protect your personal finances as much as possible, it can help to know how to check for identity theft and 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.

A common practice among identity thieves is to make one or two small charges on a credit card 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. To help, you may be able to 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 bills have always been paid on time, 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.

Did you know?

Discover offers Identity Theft Protection for just $15 per month. This comprehensive service includes: three bureau credit alerts–when key changes1 are reported to your credit file; dark web alerts–when we find your SSN or any other info you provide on any one of thousands of dark websites we monitor for illegally sharing personal data; and more alerts of potential threats to your identity. In the case of ID theft, you can access up to $1MM Identity Theft Insurance–for legal expenses, reimbursement of stolen funds, lost wages, and more covered expenses2; and count on expert service from 100% 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 available programs—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.

Next steps

You may also be interested in

Share article

Was this article helpful?

Glad you found this useful. Could you let us know what you found helpful?
Sorry this article didn't help you. Can you give us feedback why?

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for your feedback

  1. Key changes include: New accounts, credit inquiries, address changes, potentially negative information such as delinquencies, and public records.

  2. Identity Theft Protection: Identity Theft Insurance underwritten by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of American International Group, Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions, and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

    This product can only be agreed upon, purchased and delivered online. It is optional and voluntary.

  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.