How to Know If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft

Published September 2021
Identifying identity theft

Identity thieves have redoubled their efforts lately, leading to more theft reports than ever. Spot identity theft early to limit its effects on your life.

Key Points:

  • Identity theft has skyrocketed in recent years.
  • Review your credit reports often to spot identity theft early.
  • Do not ignore anything suspicious around your finances, taxes, insurance, and medical services.
  • Use preventive measures to reduce your exposure to identity theft.

Identity theft is not something a credit card user can afford to take lightly. If you think it can’t happen to you, you are wrong. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is now more prevalent than ever.

In 2020, consumers reported nearly 1.4 million cases of identity theft. The number of such incidents doubled from 2019, resulting in billions of dollars of damage.

BlogImage_Identitytheftreportsbyyear(Source: FTC)

Perhaps the worst thing about credit card fraud resulting from identity theft is that victims only notice it once it has caused considerable damage. The key to effective identity theft damage control is to notice the problem early and act as quickly as possible.

How Do You Know That You Are the Victim of Identity Theft?

Depending on how the theft of your personal information occurs and how much data the thieves steal, the effects of the resulting fraud will show up in different ways. Checking your credit report frequently is a good way to spot identity theft early.

Regardless of how the thieves make their moves, they will impact your credit history somehow. Here’s a list of symptoms potentially indicating that fraudsters have stolen your identity.

  • Errors in your personal information in your credit report, such as an incorrect SSN, should always raise a red flag.
  • If a new account pops up in your report that you don’t recognize, something wrong is already afoot.
    You can spot some of the telltale signs of identity theft even without checking your credit report.
  • You get statements and bills for accounts you did not know you had. Such documents may arrive in the mail, cluing you in that something is wrong.
  • Statements and bills that you expect do not arrive.
  • You get a notification about a tax return someone has filed in your name.
  • Your creditors deny you further credit unexpectedly.
  • You get requests to authenticate accounts you never opened.
  • You notice unauthorized withdrawals and transactions on your legitimate accounts.

If you notice any such suspicious activity, contact your creditors immediately and dispute fraudulent transactions. The law protects you, capping your liability for such transactions at $50. To make sure the impact of identity theft on your life is limited and short-lived, contact your credit card issuer as soon as possible.

Never ignore any errors or signs of suspicious activity in your credit reports. Address everything as soon as you notice it.

How Identity Theft Can Happen

Identity thieves can strike in a variety of ways. Knowing how these fraudsters operate can help you limit your exposure.

BlogImage_IdentityTheftIdentity theft is sophisticated pickpocketing. 

  • Identity thieves can intercept mail.
  • Crooked online merchants may coax you into giving them your personal information.
  • Hackers may break into the centralized databases of legitimate merchants.
  • Criminals may pose as tax authority agents, police, or other persons in a position of authority to try to convince you to give up your personal information.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Although you can never fully insulate yourself from identity theft, you can take measures to reduce your exposure.

  • Avoid using public WiFi networks for operations involving the transfer of sensitive information.
  • Create strong passwords, keep them well protected, and change them often.
  • Never ignore notices from your credit card issuers, insurance agencies, and health care providers. Make sure the notices are legitimate and scrutinize them for inaccurate and suspicious information.
  • Check your credit reports regularly. They are your best chance to notice credit card fraud early.
  • Never give out sensitive information over the phone to a party whose legitimacy you can’t verify.
  • Keep your Social Security card and other essential documents in a safe place.
  • If you are struggling with credit card debt, do not fall for too-good-to-be-true offers of credit card help. Criminals love to target vulnerable people, and debt makes you vulnerable. Only accept credit card help from trusted, reputable companies.

You are vulnerable to identity theft unless you take preventative steps. Always examine your credit reports carefully and never let anything suspicious slip. When seeking credit card debt relief, do your research and reach out for help only to reputable companies.

With a 9 out of 10 client satisfaction score and a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, ClearOne Advantage is a leader in the debt-relief industry. As an accredited member of the Consumer Debt Relief Initiative (CDRI), we work with clients every step of the way on their journey to freedom from debt.

Contact a ClearOne Certified Debt specialist at 866-481-1597 to discuss the credit card debt relief options available to you and get a free savings estimate.

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The data and statistics referenced come from multiple credible resources that are cited throughout. ClearOne makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of the information from these various resources and is solely providing the content for informational purposes only.

Topics: Financial Education