If you find you are a victim of identity theft, this can be devastating news. However, if you find out fast enough, you can do something about it to reduce the damage from such identity thieves.
However, on the dark web and other places where hackers and other cybercriminals go, there is a considerable demand for this kind of data. There is a significant increase in this kind of theft identity going on.
It becomes worse when this theft comes from mobile devices, and the more we use them, the more we are open to such risks. However, it is more about the time we spend online than just the devices we use. (Read our Online Privacy Guide)
Here, you can learn about the signs of identity theft, also, what to do if you are a victim of theft of identity.
How Can I Find Out if Someone is Using My Identity?
Some of the first ways to find out if anyone is using your identity is to get up to date statements from your bank account and credit cards and study them to be sure all purchases and you made all withdrawals.
Second is to get a copy of your Experian free credit report. If all your finances are intact, you may see your credit rating increasing. If this is the case for no reason, it could be a fraudster trying to improve your score before they attack.
On the other side, if your credit rating is dropping, it may be someone is asking for credit yet being denied. The more you ask, the more it affects your score.
How Do You Know if Your Identity Has Been Stolen?
While identity theft often happens online, there are times when your personal information will be taken physically. Therefore, you do need to include these circumstances in determining if someone has stolen your identity.
Your home can be one of the first places where you may notice something wrong. If a window is broken, or the door is open, it can be obvious someone has been in. However, when online, and with your finances, you must be familiar with everything.
The reason being, no one will tell you anything until it’s too late. One of the first things to do is your credit reports. The personal information here can give you clues someone has been using your identity.
Besides this, there is a lot of information in this that people can use to steal your identity.
A credit report contains all your current credit account personal information. Spotting something is wrong, such as a credit card that you didn’t apply for can be a good indication your personal data has fallen into the wrong hands.
Here are more warning signs; your identity may be stolen and it was used without you knowing.
- You may have a good credit rating, yet are denied credit
- You spot unauthorized bank transactions or withdrawals
- Bills or statements posted to your home that are for unordered items, or cards you don’t have
- Checks, bank account statements, or bills no longer come to your home
- You are informed your PII (personally identifiable information) was in a data breach. if current, it will have your social security number
- You find there is a warrant out for your arrest
- Your online tax return can’t be filed as one has already been submitted
One area you may not notice anything strange to begin with is when your identity is used for medical purposes. It can comprise medical care, medication, or coverage under your name from an insurance company or through Medicare. (Read our Internet Safety for Seniors Guide)
What Do I Do if I Think My Identity Has Been Stolen?
If you believe your identity has been stolen, you have to take the necessary steps and report the identity theft immediately and initiate the process of recovery to prevent further loss and risk.
First, call your credit card companies and your bank directly to have your bank account frozen and to dispute pending charges.
In addition, it would help if you considered opening new secure credit cards and bank accounts to prevent the likelihood of more unauthorized charges.
How to Report an Identity Theft
You have two ways to go about identity theft reporting, and they are by phone to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), or you can do it online at IdentityTheft.gov.
While the phone will be quicker, doing it online has advantages. You receive an identity theft report and a recovery plan. You can also track your progress, and there are prefilled letters you can send to creditors.
If you are a victim of identity theft, how to report to police or other authorities varies depending on the institution and if they are affected.
What to Do if Your Identity is Stolen
If you follow the above, you stand a good chance of limiting the risk of further losses or disputes and the use of your identity.
It can, however, be easier for you to take precautions to prevent an identity thief from getting your identity. Here are some things you can do:
- Shred all your documentation you no longer need (anything with a name, address, and PII)
- Never carry your social security number on your card. Keep this in a secure location.
- Carry your passport, credit cards, and medical ID cards or identity only when you require them.
Follow internet safety tips to be sure your online privacy and security are as secure as possible.
To stop an identity thief from finding where you live from your online footprint, use a premium VPN service.
If you use a virtual private network for all sensitive transactions, you will remove yourself from the internet to identity thieves and in the eyes of anyone prying or trying to follow you online.
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