Signs of Identity Theft Fraud You Shouldn't Ignore

Posted by Osgood Bank on December 26, 2023

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In our increasingly digitized world, where personal information is stored and transacted online, the threat of identity theft looms larger than ever before. Recognizing the signs of identity theft is crucial for individuals to protect themselves against this pervasive crime.

Unexplained Financial Activity

One major indicator of identity theft is unexplained financial transactions. Victims may notice withdrawals they did not authorize, unfamiliar charges on credit cards, or loans they never applied for. 

What you should do:

Regularly monitor bank statements and credit reports. Online and mobile banking can allow you to check your activity frequently and detect discrepancies faster. 

Missing Mail or Unexpected BillsChecking Mail

In addition to swiping mail from a mailbox, identity thieves may redirect a victim's mail to a different address in order to gain access to sensitive information. If you stop receiving mail or start receiving unexpected bills for accounts you didn't open, it could be a red flag for identity theft. 

What you should do:

Regularly check your mailbox and report any discrepancies to the postal service. If you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, have a friend or family member bring in your mail or ask the post office to hold your mail until your return.

Big Changes In Credit Score

A sudden and unexplained drop in your credit score could be a sign of identity theft. Identity thieves often open new accounts or take out loans in the victim's name which impacts the victim's creditworthiness. 

What you should do:

Regularly monitor your credit score and report any unexpected changes promptly.

Rejected Credit Applications

If you're denied for credit unexpectedly, or receive unfavorable terms, it may be due to fraudulent activities impacting your credit history. Be vigilant if creditors inform you about multiple applications for credit in your name, especially if you haven't applied for new credit. 

Social Security Number Misuse

Your Social Security number is a critical piece of information for identity thieves. If you receive notices about income earned from an employer you don't recognize or face issues with your tax return due to duplicate filings, it could indicate that someone is using your Social Security number unlawfully.

What you should do:

Do not carry your Social Security card with you and don't provide your number unnecessarily. 

Suspicious Communication

Identity thieves often use various means to communicate with their victims. Be wary of unexpected calls, emails, or text messages requesting personal information or payment. 

What you should do:

Remember that legitimate organizations typically do not request sensitive information through unsolicited communications. If you're suspicious, hang up and call a verified number to double check. 

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft involves someone using your personal information to receive medical services or submit fraudulent insurance claims. If you notice unfamiliar medical bills or discover that your medical records contain inaccurate information, it could be a sign of identity theft. 

Employment-Related FraudEmployment Fraud

Identity thieves might use your personal information to gain employment, leaving you to deal with the consequences. If you receive tax documents from an employer you didn't work for or face issues related to income earned under your name, it's crucial to investigate further. 

What you should do:

Double-check any paperwork you receive to verify they are from your legitimate employer .

Unfamiliar Accounts or Charges on Utility Bills

Identity thieves may open utility accounts in your name, leading to unexpected bills for services you didn't use.  

What you should do:

Keep an eye on your utility bills and report any discrepancies promptly. 

Unusual Online Activity

With the rise of online transactions, identity thieves often exploit digital channels. If you notice unauthorized access to your online accounts (yes, even social media), changes in passwords, or unfamiliar devices linked to your accounts, act swiftly to secure your online presence.

By staying informed and taking preventative measures, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to identity theft fraud. 



Topics: Fraud & Security

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