When you go out on a date or even just drive around for some groceries there are certain risks that are taken that could result in a stolen identity. If your identity has been stolen, the one thing that you should consider is whether it certainly is the case.
So how do you know when your identity has been stolen? Here are some indicators or hints that may make you the victim of identity theft.
- Withdrawals or purchases on your bank account you do not remember making.
- Missing bills over the mail that you may had been expecting.
- If certain sales merchants refuse checks from you.
- Debt collectors are contacting you about debts you were not aware of.
- Medical provider bills are sent out to your mailbox that you are not aware of.
- Your health plan rejects a medical claim because your benefits had already reached its limit.
- You are notified by the IRS that more than one tax return was filed under your name, or for income under an employer you do not work for.
- A notice is given to you that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company you work for or have an account with.
If any of these indicators could not be addressed or answered by logical means based on your financial record-keeping, then there is a high chance that your identity has been stolen. With many people every year dealing with identity theft, how could you out of the hundreds of people around the country have been made a target.
A stolen identity usually has an individual perpetrator, and here are some ways that your identity could be stolen:
Credit card theft: Like most people, you probably use credit cards to buy things from the supermarket, or the coffee shop. This means that of all the places you have swiped or have given your card to cashiers, there’s a chance they could have stolen your identity.
Unsecure Websites: Maybe you are more of an online shopper. Of course, there’s also a chance of identity theft that could happen during the transaction.
Phishing: The email-based scam that is also done via telephone is another way how an identity has been stolen. By posing as a company or service, they get the reader or caller to enter personal information
Hacking: Tech-savvy thieves hack can utilize their technological know-how to steal personal information and even account information from banks that could leave your financials ripe for the taking.
Shoulder surfing: A classic scheme when it comes to stolen identity, shoulder surfing is when a sneak thief may look over and steal your PIN at the line of an ATM.
Skimming: A much more sophisticated way of stealing information via ATM. Skimming is when a special card reader is attached to an ATM that allows the thief to read and take any credit card information from the victim.
Fraudulent credit reports: Credit report schemes use the manipulation of phishing to get a victim’s financial information in a much more direct and sinister way.
Pretexting: Instead of attempting to get information or steal funding through an individual, this type of identity theft method has a perpetrator call their banks. By calling banks, utility companies or other organizations under fall pretenses to get any account or personal information.
Dumpster diving: Bank statements, credit card information and even junk mail may have information that could easily be taken, even when it was thrown out. Dumpster divers will find any types of information that is not shredded that could lead to your stolen identity.
Mail theft: Instead of looking in your garbage, your mailbox could be ransacked and any information within those envelopes will belong to the thief for the taking.
Although there are other situations that may have resulted in a stolen identity, there’s plenty else to consider when you are a victim identity theft.
What do you do when your identity has been stolen?
As soon as you know that you are a victim of identity theft, you should take these steps immediately to avoid any further charges on your card or unauthorized actions under your name.
- Contact fraud alert departments: Things like your credit score could be impacted by identity theft and should be the first ones to contact to place a fraud alert on your credit report. This prevents any new accounts to be opened under your name, as well as ensure that any charges from your accounts will not impact your score from three credit score agencies.
- Contact other institutions under your name: Your bank, insurance company and other financial institutions should also be notified so they can ensure that whatever happens with your stolen identity will not be pitted out on you.
- File a police report: Filing a police report as soon as possible will allow for a faster recovery, especially if they are able to identify and find the culprit, which means paperwork and evidence that proves that your identity had been stolen.
- Get things fixed ASAP: Once every person had been called about your stolen identity, it’s time to work with your insurance company and bank to recover any funding taken or damages done. The sooner, the better!
After taking all the possible steps, expect plenty of phone calls and waiting during the process. Once the dust has settled, you will now know exactly what to do if it ever happens again. But what are some steps toward identity theft prevention?
How to avoid getting your identity stolen
A stolen identity is no joke, and it could be hard to trust everyone and anything when it comes to using your credit card or giving out personal information. Here are some tips on what you can do to avoid identity theft.
- Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or purse, where it could easily be lost or taken. Store it somewhere safe and be sure that any online sites that ask for your social security number should be kept on watch.
- Use secure passwords to protect any personal information and accounts from being accessed. Changing those passwords regularly also improves security against hackers.
- Avoid giving personal information to any websites that may be unsecured. For instance, a web page containing “https” in the address or that little padlock symbol next to the address field is a secure site.
- Invest in a firewall or spyware protection program on your computer. Be sure to update it regularly to continue that consistent protection on your personal information.
- Shred any documents or mail that has your personal or account information. Whether you shred it with a shredder or burn it over a fireplace, leave no trace of your information in the hands of dumpster divers.
- Keep organized and make a list of your credit card and bank account numbers along with the customer service lines for each. Keep it in a safe place if your identity has been stolen, so you are more prepared than ever.
Although these preventive measures may decrease the chances of identity theft, it’s always good to know what to do in the case of a stolen identity, and we hope we at LoanMart has you thinking of avoiding any habits that could lead you in that situation.