Whenever you buy a new pair of jeans online, book a weekend getaway using your credit card, or appease your a bank or cable company by giving them the last four digits of your Social Security number over the phone...of course it crosses your mind. Could my identity get stolen? And, how will I know if it is swiped?
Here are 5 signs that can tip you off to a potential security breach with regards to your identity:
1. Your credit card bills are late. Though your inbox is password-protected, your mailbox likely isn't. And if you are routinely missing bills or receiving them late, someone may have gotten a hold of your new snail mail before you did. Or, they may have changed the mailing address on your account.
2. You get credit cards for an account you didn't open. If you didn't open it, someone else may have. There's a difference between the promotions advertising a new credit card deal and paperwork informing you that you have a new account. Before you shred, ensure that what you get from a bank is not the latter.
3. Denied! You get denied a credit card, even though you think your credit history should have qualified you for it. If you aren't in the habit of regularly consulting your credit report, you may be in for a rude awakening if you get denied a credit card when you think your financial situation is solid. There may have been credit report signs regarding an identity breach, but if you missed them along the way, be sure to pay attention to this smoke signal if you come across it.
4. You get a call about a purchase you didn't make. A call about where to deliver the new living room furniture you didn't purchase is a pretty big giveaway about something not being right regarding your credit. But, it can be much more subtle. So be sure to listen carefully, try to verify the authenticity of the call, and ask questions about the supposed purchase.
5. You don't recognize withdrawals or charges on your statement. Even if you have gone paperless with regards to your credit card statements, it is still a good habit to review purchases and payments regularly. Though big charges may stand out, regular small payouts may slide by under the radar for a prolonged time. It may feel odd to call about an unfamiliar $2.57 charge, but if it has popped up a few times, that may be the next call you make.
In the face of fraud...
If a few of these indicators apply to you and you feel that you may be a victim of identity theft, place a fraud alert with the three credit reporting agencies. They can put a 90-day hold on your account and can also send over a copy of your credit report so you can verify any other irregular activity.
- Top Signs You May Have Been a Victim of ID Theft (WalletPop)
- FTC - What To Do If Your Personal Information Has Been Compromised (BBB)
- IRS Trash Puts Consumers at Risk of Identity Theft, Report Finds (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Job Search Fraud Rising in Recession: Five Job Search Scams to Avoid (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)
- Identity Theft Overview (provided by Law Offices of Bill Baskette)
- Legal Remedies for Identity Theft (provided by Thomas R. Breeden, P.C.)