You’re entitled to request a free credit report from the three major bureaus in the US, namely Experian, Equifax and TransUnion annually. You can request one from each bureau every four months, allowing you to check for any suspicious activity on your accounts. If you notice anything untoward, be sure to contact the bureau in question immediately. Ask them to investigate and remove any false information from your credit report. This is crucial for protecting your credit score going forward.
2. Unexplained credit card charges
It isn’t necessary for your credit card to be stolen in order for its information to be compromised. Logging into public Wi-Fi and entering your credit card number over a public network could allow hackers to gain access to your information. You can prevent this by only inputting credit card details online while using a private network, such as when at home. If your credit card details become compromised, be sure to call your creditor to report the fraud and have the charge removed. The next step is to change your credit card numbers as soon as possible.
Receiving phone calls from debt collectors is a tell-tale sign that an identity thief is running up a tab at your expense. You can use the Identity Theft Resource Center’s toll-free hotline, or LiveChat, so an advisor can help you formulate an appropriate plan of action if you find yourself in this situation.
4. You get a two-factor identification alert
Hackers digging through your online accounts could trigger a two-factor identification alert. You can prevent this from occurring by strengthening your passwords – try combining four random words together and adding a number. Follow that up by adding at least one lowercase letter and a special character. These combinations in a password make it tougher for a scammer to crack.
Keep a close eye on withdrawals from your bank account, regardless of how small they are. Hackers are known to test if charges go through by withdrawing a couple of dollars at a time. You should contact your credit card company immediately in the event that you see unfamiliar charges, and also ask them to freeze your credit. Doing this will prevent the opening of any new lines of credit, thus making you a tougher target.
6. Receiving bills for unfamiliar expenses
Although there’s no denying that spam mail is a huge problem these days, you shouldn’t throw away or ignore any unusual bills you receive in your mailbox. Bills or notices for overdue payments could point to the fact that your identity has been stolen. This instance necessitates that you file a police report immediately. Despite it being unlikely that the perpetrator will be caught, the record of reporting identity theft could help you repair your credit in future.
Not receiving mail or emails related to your expenses could also be a sign of identity theft. This is especially true for correspondence that you’re supposed to receive on a regular basis, such as bank statements. All it takes to reroute your mail and intercept sensitive documents is for an identity thief to know your name and address. Be sure to follow up with your creditors if you’re not receiving your bills on time.
8. Notification for filing more than one tax return
Yet another scam that identity thieves are known to attempt is filing a tax return in your name, claiming a phony refund and then swiping it from your mailbox. You can tell if you’ve fallen victim to this if you’re rejected when attempting to file an electronic tax return, or receiving a tax refund that you did not request. These are big red flags for identity theft, so you should contact the IRS immediately in the event that they arise.
Receiving mail addressed to people other than yourself, or those that live with you, is not to be taken lightly. There’s no denying that mistakes happen, but freezing your credit will do no harm in the event that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft.
10. Notification of your information being compromised
You’ll be surprised to know that your employer might happen to be one of the first people to know if your information has been compromised. This is because an identity thief who has gained access to your social security number and name of your current employer might attempt to collected unemployment benefits in your name. An employer or an unemployment agency will eventually notice this. To prevent this from happening, you should always avoid giving out your social security number unnecessarily.
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