Watch For These Warnings That Your Identity Has Been Stolen
(RepublicanPress.org) – The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2021 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book showed that Americans reported 5.7 million instances of fraud in 2021, totaling about $5.8 billion in losses – a $2.4 billion increase over 2020. Instances of reported identity theft topped the list, with Americans filing nearly 1.4 million reports.
You can protect yourself from falling victim to the practice by:
- Keeping documents containing personal information in a secure place
- Making sure you know who is receiving your sensitive data and why
- Setting up multi-step identification for online accounts
You could be at risk of identity theft if you’ve experienced the mysterious loss of financial documents or credit cards, recent theft of your purse or wallet, or a recent break-in at your home or office.
5 Signs You May Have Fallen Victim to Identity Theft
There are numerous signs indicating a thief may have stolen your identity.
1. Bank, Credit Card, and Other Financial Accounts Flagged
A sure sign you may have fallen victim to identity theft is the receipt of notices from your bank, credit card, or lending agency advising you they flagged your account for suspicious activity. Be careful, though; some identity thieves call their intended victims, telling them their accounts have been flagged as part of an effort to solicit personal information.
2. Inexplicable Changes to Your Credit Report
Your credit report reflects many of your financial transactions, like that trip you took last year using your credit card. It will also show inquiries related to background checks for personal loans. Unexplained changes in your credit report could mean someone has stolen your identity.
3. IRS Reports the Filing of Multiple Tax Returns
Some identity thieves attempt to hijack your income tax refund check by filing a bogus tax return in your name using their address or routing number. If the IRS advises you that it received more than one tax return, don’t shrug it off; ask questions.
4. Unexplained Withdrawals From Your Bank Account
If an identity thief gains access to your banking or debit card information, you might start seeing unexplained withdrawals from your account(s). Typically, you will see one small transaction indicating a thief acquired your information, followed by several charges in quick succession.
5. Unexpected or Missing Mail
If you notice you haven’t received bank or credit card statements in a while, that’s a tell-tale sign that someone stole your identity. Inversely, if you start receiving an increased amount of junk mail, that could indicate an identity thief is making purchases using your credentials. Likewise, if you receive statements and bills from places you haven’t visited, you may have a problem.
What to Do?
If you think that you, or someone you know, is the victim of identity theft, you can go to the federal government’s one-stop resource www.identitytheft.gov to report and begin recovering from it.
You can also go to the FTC’s Identity Theft page at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft for additional information and resources to protect yourself.
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