How to know if you are a Victim of Identity theft
Identity theft is fast becoming a common crime in the United States. On daily basis, different cases of identity theft are reported. People are heavily indebted and pay for loans/credits that they know nothing about, this is what it has degenerated to.
Identity theft is the crime of illegally obtaining somebody else’s financial or personal information with the aim of using the person’s name and identity to obtain loans, credits or for purchases. Most times, victims of identity theft aren’t aware that their information is being used for obtaining a loan. All they see is an exorbitant increase in their bills and the rate at which their debt accumulate.
A recent financial report in the United States revealed that most people are bankrupted and not credit worthy today not because they are heavily indebted, but because they are victims of identity theft without knowing.
This article is tailored towards educating our readers on how to know if there are victims of identity theft. Some of the ways of knowing if you are a victim of identity theft are;
Ø Bills Of Goods And Services You Never Purchased Appear On Your Credit/Debit Statements: One of the easiest ways of knowing that you are a victim of identity theft is when you start seeing bills of goods and services you never purchased. Once this is observed, immediately report to the relevant financial authority or if possible your credit card issuer. Most times some people notice some of these purchases and may not decide to take action; this may be very dangerous as you may be fully indebted and your credit worthiness will reduce drastically.
Ø Statement of an unknown credit card account: What identity thefts criminal do is to quickly start applying for credit cards in your name. This will enable them to do several shopping in your account before you noticed and block the credit cards. In view of this, it is advisable to regularly check the statement of your account and once you notice any unusual activity or purchase, immediately report to the appropriate authority.
Ø A credit card you never applied for shows up in a mail: Acting fast and quick is one of the ways of avoiding being defrauded in the technological age we find ourselves. This is why whenever you receive a mail regarding a credit card you never opened; don’t assume it is a mistake. Immediately contact the issuing company and make inquiries. If possible visit their office and block all transactions that have to do with the card. With the step, you can prevent the fraudster who has stolen your identity for further damage.
Ø Errors or Misinformation on Credit Report: It is your right to periodically obtain free credit reports from the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). What you will do is to get a report from any of the bureaus once in 4 months and check if there is any suspicious activity like; accounts you didn’t open, inquiries you never made and credit cards you never applied. Once you notice any abnormal activities financial activities, immediately report it to the appropriate authority.
Ø Application for credit denied despite the fact that you have a good credit record: This is another easy way that people will make people know that their identity is stolen. Once loan issuing organizations start denying your loan applications despite your good credit records, just know that something is fishing somewhere. No need for further delay, immediately request for your credit report so as to know what is going on and who has been obtaining loan from borrowing organizations on your behalf.
Ø Missing Mail: Ordinarily, your credit card issuer ought to have been sending you monthly statement of your account. This statement contains all your credit card transactions for the month under review. However, once this mail stops coming, don’t assume contact the credit card issuing organization immediately. This is because of the fact that it is a possibility that an identity theft criminal may have filed a form changing your address so as to prevent you from suspecting any fraudulent activity going on in your account.
Ø Call for a debt you never owe: This is the aspect that is most embarrassing about the whole identity theft criminal activities. Creditors or financial institutions start calling you for loans or credits you know nothing about. Whenever you receive such call, start a full investigation into your account activities and ascertain what is actually happening. This will enable you to take the necessary action that can save you from bankrupt.
Once you have confirmed that you are a victim of identity theft, you have to immediately proffer a solution to the problem with a view of clearing your name, reputation and credit worthiness. In view of this, we recommend the following steps for you to follow.
Steps To Take If You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
Some of the steps to take once you have confirmed that you are a victim of identity theft are;
Ø Contact affected creditors or bank immediately: The first step to redeeming yourself from an identity theft criminal is to contact affected creditors, banks and credit card issuing companies. Start by closing the affected accounts. This will save you from losing more money and placing restrictions on your various accounts from further unauthorized withdrawal.
Ø Put a fraud alert on credit report: Also, it is important to place a fraud alert on your credit report once it has been established that your identity has been stolen by fraudster. This can be done by contacting any of the three credit agencies or bureaus. This will help you to clear your reputation and make you credit worthy again.
Ø Go to the police: It is very important for victims of identity theft to file a police report regarding the incidence and the report must contain all the accounts that are affected by the fraud. To ensure the comprehensiveness of the report, you have to give documented information to them as well as a copy of ID theft complaint form from FTC. This report will put you on the safer side and help to clear your reputation once again.
Ø Send Creditors a copy of your ID theft report: Try and send a copy of your Identity theft report to your creditors so that they will be convinced that your identity has been stolen for fraudulent transaction. Once you have notified them, try to ensure that they effect the necessary alterations on your credit so as to make you credit worthy again.
Ø Signup for credit monitoring services: Signing up for credit monitoring service is another effective step to take once your Identity has been stolen. When you register on this service, you will be able to monitor any credit activity that is going on in your account and if it is unauthorized by you, you can always contact the creditor to place a restriction on the loan.
Ø Open new credit cards and financial accounts: Most cases, identity theft victims always close the affected credits cards and financial accounts so that they can request for a new transaction. This will help to prevent further damage and fraud.
If some of the points discussed above are strictly adhered to, you can still redeem your reputation and image after your identity has been stolen. Also, your credit worthiness will be reinstated.
However, prevention is always better than cure. In other words, it is better you put measures on ground that will secure your identity from being stolen. There are several ways of safeguarding yourself against identity theft; some of these ways are discussed below.
Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Ø Shred Sensitive Documents: One of the easiest ways of protecting yourself from identity theft is to always shred all sensitive documents like; banks statement, credit card receipts, and other valuable documents containing your identity details.
Ø Strengthen your password: Creating a very strong password can help protect you from identity theft. Ensure that you use different passwords for different account and use combinations of letters, figures and special characters for your passwords.
Ø Guard your social security number jealously: Most people are very careless with their social security number and this is why their identity is vulnerable to theft. It is advisable to avoid keeping your credit cards on your wallet and don’t share your social security number except for official purpose.
Ø Monitor your financial statement: Always monitor your financial statement at all time and ensure that all the financial activities are in order. Once any suspicious activity is noticed, report immediately to the appropriate authority.
Be very careful with your information and adhere strictly with the information provided above. If you do this, the tendency of your identity being stolen will be reduced.
Protect your identity at all time and don’t allow fraudster to take advantage of your vulnerability and reap from where they never sowed.