Identity theft is stressful, and it can do tremendous damage to your finances. It's important to recognize the signs early.
The earlier you notice something is amiss, the faster you can take action to minimize the damage.
The Better Business Bureau recommends the following tips to help you recognize the signs of identity theft as soon as possible.
1. What is the first red flag someone may have stolen your identity?
You receive statements or bills in the mail for accounts you never opened.
If you get a bill for an account you didn't authorize, someone may have gotten a hold of your personal information and opened an account in your name.
Contact the company immediately to find out if there's been a mistake and check your credit report for unusual activity.
2. You apply for a loan or credit and are being denied. Could ID theft be the cause?
You may think you have great credit, but if you only apply for a credit card or loan and are shocked to find that you've been rejected, you may be the victim of identity theft.
Thieves can open accounts in your name, run up the bill, and then default on payments, ruining your credit before you know what they've been up to.
Check your credit report a few times a year to make sure no one has opened any credit accounts in your name.
3. What are some other red flags?
- Your regular bills stop showing up in the mail
- You notice suspicious activity in your bank account
- You notice suspicious charges on your credit card
- You get authentication messages for accounts you didn't set up
- The IRS rejects your tax return
- The IRS informs you a tax return has been filed on your behalf
- Your credit score inexplicably improves or deteriorates
- You are suddenly denied medical coverage
- Debt collectors call about debts you are unaware of