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How To

How to Recognize Identity Theft

Written by Sydney Butler
Published on April 10, 2018

This is the information age, as they say. That can mean a lot of things, but mainly it implies that information is valuable. Few pieces of information are as valuable as your identity. Once someone has all the information they need to steal your identity it can provide them with all sorts of powers. They can take out loans in your name, get into your bank account or apply for work. The possibilities are endless.

Oddly enough, identity thieves can get away with it for years before anyone notices something is amiss. There are however quite a few signs that something is wrong, so let’s see how you can catch on if someone decides to become you.

Weird Entries on Your Bank Statements

Banks

You’d think people would go over their monthly account statements with a fine-toothed comb. In reality, most of us don’t bother with it and unless a massive amount of money goes missing, you probably just let it go.

Many identity thieves who take money from credit cards or bank account do so in small amounts. Most banks have a threshold below which they won’t send you a transaction notification, so you can literally be nickeled and dimed out of hundreds of dollars a year. An identity thief with access to dozens of accounts could make quite a decent amount of money this way.

If you do see transactions that you did not make it any of your accounts, contact the fraud department of your bank immediately.

Credit Report Anomalies

Credit scores determine how successful your application for a loan or other forms of credit will be. It can even affect whether you are allowed to rent a place to live. In many parts of the world, your credit score is one of the most important numbers you can know.

Usually people can request a free credit report annually, but however you get access to your credit record, keep an eye out for strange entries. Are there applications which don’t come from you? Cards you’ve never heard of? These are major signs that someone is trying to impersonate you. It’s pretty serious since your credit score can drop seriously when the inevitable default on those loans happen.

Incorrect Snail Mail

Mail

While plenty of companies no longer send their bills by snail mail, it’s still a common way to let people know you need to get paid. So if you start getting bills in the mail for things you definitely did not buy, the last thing you should do is ignore it!

This happens because the person who is impersonating you has to use the correct address. They might even have planned to get to your mailbox before you. If you get lucky and find a bill resulting from identity fraud, get in touch with that company and with the cops!

Tax Discrepancies

Calculator Finances

One common form of identity fraud involves someone getting a job using your name and identity numbers. The company thinks that their employee is you. They then file taxes as normal. At the end of the tax year, the government realizes that you have two declared incomes and are therefore not paying as much tax as you should. They’ll then get in touch with you to ask for the shortfall.

This isn’t just a sign of identity theft. It’s basically a confirmation that it’s happened. Luckily you can simply see which company filed the tax return and get in touch with them to report the fraud. You might need the services of a tax lawyer in order to get the mess sorted out with the taxman though.

Depending on where you live and how tax laws work, you might simply have your tax return rejected because it’s already submitted.

Medical Insurance Problems

Physical Examination Blood Pressure

If you have a medical aid or medical insurance then your identity becomes very valuable indeed for identity thieves. If your benefits are suddenly drained and you see treatments and illnesses you do not have reflected on your paperwork, someone is probably pretending to be you in order to get free medical treatment.

Unfortunately, you’ll usually only hear of this after the person is long gone, but all medical insurance companies have a fraud department. Report it immediately.

Debt Collectors

This is a tricky one because there are scammers out there who will pose as debt collectors in order to scam you out of money through threats. This means that most people will probably dismiss a debt collector who presents an account they know isn’t theirs. However, thanks to the prevalence of identity theft we now can’t ignore such claims. So at the very least you should investigate whether there really is an official debt against your name and report it as fraudulent before it wrecks your credit score or you are taken to court.

What Can You Do?

Obviously, the best strategy is to prevent your identity from being stolen in the first place. Even after it’s already happened to you, there are a few things you can do to prevent it happening again:

It might also be a good idea to take out some identity theft insurance. You can usually add it cheaply to your existing insurance. This can help cover the costs of fixing the damage.

If you’ve already been the victim of identity theft then you should definitely report it to the police. It’s also a good idea to get in touch with a financial counselor. They will walk you through the process of setting things straight. There is not an easy and painless way to reverse the effects of identity fraud. You can do it with the right support it can be done. In fact, as the world comes to grips with this internet-fueled crime things are becoming easier, not harder.



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