How to Tell if You Are a Victim of Identity Theft
There is an increasing demand on the dark web for personal information that allows dark web users to commit identity fraud and various cybercrimes. Those who commit identity theft will go to great lengths to get their hands on people's personal information, such as bank account info, credit card information, and most important – people's social security number.
With millions of Americans affected by identity theft each year, it is important to know identity theft warning signs that may indicate someone has stolen your personal information.
Below are identity theft warning signs and clues that you must know and tips on what to do when you suspect that someone has stolen your personal data:
Your bank account shows irregular activity
If everything is in order with your bank account, that you should have no problems with money withdrawals, and other standard activities. However, if someone has stolen your identity, you will experience discrepancies in your bank account.
Tip: check your account regularly to make sure everything is in order. If you notice unauthorized money withdrawals, if checks begin to bounce for no reason, or you see even the smallest discrepancy in your account, you should act immediately. The best course of action is to close the current account and open a new account under a new number. Consult your bank on what you can do to better protect your new account, and set up better protection in case someone tries to access it without your permission.
You receive unfamiliar bills or you do not receive bills
Mail is a popular way for identity thieves to get access to their victims; they use the mail to gather data about intended victims, and bills are often used for this purpose. Once they have sufficient information, the identity thieves will either sell it or use the information to set up an account in your name. Also, data collected from bills and mail is often used to purchase goods and spend the money of identity theft victims. So, if you do not receive your bills in time if certain bills do not arrive, or you keep receiving second notices without receiving the original bill, it is possible that someone has stolen your mail.
Tip: keep track of your bills as much as you can. Write down when bills arrived and when you paid them so you will be able to have an idea of when the next bills are due. Also, check your mailbox daily, and as an extra precaution, set a personal P.O. box for your mail that only you and your family will have access to in order to prevent mail theft.
You are contacted by debt collectors
Certain identity thieves use their victims' names to take out loans and skip out on payments. Then, the unsuspecting victims receive calls from bill collectors, asking to pay back the debts.
Tip: like with every other financial transition, check your accounts to find out if someone has taken out loans or ordered credit cards on your behalf. If you notice suspicious activity, contact the three main credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to notify them and dispute the fraudulent activity that was carried out in your name. also, contact the service provider where the fake account was opened and ask to close it as soon as possible.
You lose utility services
You paid your bills in time, you have no debt that you are aware of, but somehow, you lose cell service and other utility services. This is one of the biggest identity theft signs that you must know; with cell phones, identity thieves will purchase new devices, making your phone number non-active. So, you will be left with no active number, and have to pay for a cell phone that you did not purchase.
Tip: if you lose cell service or other utility services, contact your service provider immediately. Ask them to disconnect the unauthorized account, stop the payments, and ask for security service for your service. For instance, you can ask your wireless provider to send you automatic notifications whenever someone who is not you tries to do something with your account, like get a new SIM card.
Your medical claims are denied/your medical bills do not add up
If you receive a message that you have reached your medical benefits limit or if you receive bills of medical claims that you did not request, it is highly likely that someone has stolen your identity. In such cases, identity thieves provide the personal information of their victims to medical professionals, thus exhausting medical benefits. When this happens, people do not only find themselves lacking proper medical care rights, but they also end up having false information on their medical records that could lead to future problems.
Tip: keep track of your medical bills and make sure they correspond with the treatments and benefits that you received. If you notice that your medical bills contain false statements or you are denied health care, contact your healthcare provider as well as your health insurance company to notify them of the fraudulent activity.
Identity thieves go to great lengths to perform identity theft and use people's personal information to steal their money. There are red flags that indicate that someone has stolen your identity, and it is important to know those signs and be alert to what goes on in your accounts and with your service providers.