Are You an Identity Theft Victim?
Identifying identity theft is something that everyone should know how to do, because the earlier you spot unauthorized charges and other telltale signs, the more you can limit the damage of being an identity theft victim.
Most victims don't know that someone has been using their personal information for weeks or months after the theft has occurred. By then, the thief has had ample opportunity to dig the victim a very deep hole, and the victim's options are limited. However, when a victim is able to spot unauthorized activity early, there are more tools available to limit the damage.
What are the best methods for identifying identity theft? Take a look at the most common ways that people learn that they're identity theft victims:
• They receive mail about jobs they never held, cars they never purchased, or apartments they never rented.
• They apply for a loan thinking that their credit is good, and loan officers either turn them down or offer them unattractive interest rates.
• They receive calls and mail from collection agencies for delinquent charges that they never made.
Identifying identity theft requires continual diligence and should be part of your credit management habits. Always remember that it takes years to build a good credit score and history, but a thief can destroy both in a very short period.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you watch for the following signs of identity theft:
• Receiving credit cards and statements for accounts you didn't open
• Finding inaccurate information on your credit reports, such as accounts you never opened or jobs you never had
• Not receiving credit card statements and/or other bills that you receive regularly and expect to see (thieves will often change identity theft victims' addresses to buy themselves time and make them tougher to find)
• Receiving cell phone bills in your name for accounts you never opened
• Getting phone calls from collection agencies on delinquent accounts that you never opened
• Finding information on your utility bills, credit card statements credit reports, or credit monitoring alerts that seems out of place or not quite right
It bears repeating: Identifying the signs of identity theft is a vital, necessary skill these days. The more aware and alert you are to the signs of identity theft, the better you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.