How Can I Tell My Identity Has Been Stolen?
The thought of your identity being stolen can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, in today’s digital age, more people are experiencing this scenario than ever before. Identity theft reports in the United States more than doubled from the previous year in 2020, skyrocketing to nearly 1.4 million.
The good news is that if you notice the clues early, there are several ways you can minimize the damage and rectify the situation. The more vigilant you are about looking for warning signs, the harder it will be for identity thieves to get what they want.
Common identity theft warning signs include:
- Finding unexplained charges on your credit card bill.
- Receiving a notification for an account you didn’t open.
- Missing or not receiving your normal bills or other mail.
- Being denied credit for no apparent reason.
Actions to take if you think your identity may be at risk:
- Check the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Guidance on Identity Theft and file a complaint.
- After reporting identity theft, create a recovery plan with the help of FTC and track your recovery progress.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit reports and carefully review all your credit reports.
- A fraud alert is a consumer statement added to your credit report with the credit agencies. This statement alerts creditors of possible fraudulent activity within your report, as well as requests that they contact you prior to establishing any accounts in your name.
- Click on each credit reporting company to place a fraud alert: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian.
- Order a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com, which you are entitled to once a year from each of the three consumer reporting companies. AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source provided by the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to obtain free credit reports in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
- Contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately.
- Alert your local police and keep a copy of the police report on file. Credit card companies and merchants may require a copy of the police report to remove fraudulent charges from your account.