ID theft is unfortunately very commonplace today, and sometimes it can be unavoidable. Keep reading to find out a few ways you can safeguard your personal and financial information, how to spot if identity theft might be happening to you, and ways that having your identity stolen can be used against you.
3 Main Signs Your Identity Has Been Stolen:
- There are accounts you don’t recognize on your credit report.
- There are unfamiliar transactions on your credit card or bank statements.
- The IRS informs you that more than one tax return has come in under your name.
Ways ID Theft Can Be Used Against You:
- The identity thief may use your information to get credit, a loan, or another service in your name. This will ultimately affect your credit score, and potentially your credit usage and how much you’ll be approved for – if not spotted in time.
- Your own money could be stolen right out of your bank account. If the identity thief uses your personal information to login to your bank accounts, your money could be stolen right out from under you.
- Your tax refund could get stolen. If you go to file your taxes and are notified by the IRS that they already have a return filed under you, this is a very good indicator that an identity thief has already gained access to your tax refund.
- Your Social Security Number could be used to work at a job you don’t actually have. An identity thief who has access to your SSN may use it for their own employment purposes. This could also directly affect your tax return, as it would add extra income you will be taxed on.
- Your health insurance could be used to provide medical care or prescriptions to an identity thief.
- Your personal and financial information could be used to file a false unemployment claim. This would mean unemployment benefits are being issued in your name to someone else.
There are a few things you can put in place to spot ID theft right away, and to help thwart it off:
- Be sure you are reviewing an annual free credit report. At least once a year, go to annualcreditreport.com and review your credit report for accounts you didn’t open yourself, or to see if there were any credit inquiries that are not yours. You’ll want to check for credit cards you didn’t open, and car or personal loans you did not apply for. Utility services will also appear on your credit report, so you’ll also want to make sure you actually have the ones listed on it.
- Check your bank statements often. At least once a month, review your bank and credit card statements to check for accuracy. Be sure the purchases listed were ones made by you. If not, call your financial institution to dispute any incorrect charges right away.
- Sign up for email or text alerts. Most banks and credit cards offer purchase alerts that you can setup for your accounts. Check your mobile app or online banking settings to see what your alert options are. Here at First Financial, our members have access to First Financial Wallet. If you haven’t already, get started today!
- Review your health insurance statements. Take note of any medical bills or explanation of benefits statements that arrive in the mail. If you don’t recognize a medical procedure or expense listed, call your health insurance provider immediately.
For more ways to protect your identity, check out our identity theft prevention guide.
Article Source: consumer.ftc.gov