Don’t Overlook These Signals For Potential Identity Theft

Consumer fraud and identity theft are on the rise, follow these tips to reduce your risk in 2015

Most people discover that they are a victim of identity theft when they review their account statements or check their accounts online. But the most serious types of identity theft may be harder to uncover. Here are some signs of identity theft you should keep an eye out for:

• Change of address forms or missing mail – Financial companies and the postal service will send a letter to both the new and the old address when someone submits a change. If a thief tries to redirect your mail, you may receive notices of the change.
• Strange phone calls – Banks and financial institutions may call you to confirm that actually did make an unusual purchase, open an account or take some other dramatic action. Be careful not to give out any personal information over the phone though, it could be a scam artist pretending to be a concerned creditor.
• Unusual bills – Don’t ignore bills sent to your home that appear to be mistakes. An identity thief could be using your name and address for their bills.
• Data theft notification – Under some state laws, businesses that experience a data theft or loss must notify the impacted consumers. Just because your data has been compromised, it doesn’t mean that your identity will necessarily be stolen. Only about 2% of stolen records are ever used fraudulently.
• Collection forms – If you receive a suspicious collection letter in the mail or if you are contacted by phone collector, it could be a sign of identity theft. A thief could have overdue debts in your name that the debtor is now trying to recover.
• Accounts stop working – A debit transaction denial may indicate that a thief has drained your checking account and a credit transaction denial may mean that a thief has maxed out your credit card.
• Parking tickets – A strange parking ticket or fine in your name could be a sign that your identity is being used by a thief. Especially when the ticket comes from a different area.
• Passwords and PINs stop working – An identity thief could change your account passwords and PIN numbers as part of their takeover. If your passwords suddenly stop working, call the creditor or financial institution immediately.
• Denial of credit – If you are unexpectedly turned down for a credit card, cell phone, loan or other new account it could be a sign that something has happened to your credit.
• Legal forms – Unusual letters from lawyers, attorney’s offices or courts can be a sign than an identity thief has used your information in a serious manner. A thief may have committed a crime or gotten into legal trouble using your identity.

If you spot of of these signs of identity theft it is important that you take action immediately. Investigate what has happened, check your credit reports and request a fraud alert. The sooner you spot and stop the identity theft, the less damage will be done to your credit.

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