Warning signs of identity theft

February 17th, 2016 Carrie White
Warning signs of ID theft

When it comes to ID theft, everyone is at risk.

Millions of Americans have their identity stolen every year and it’s one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States. In 2014, more than 1.5 million complaints of identity fraud were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and with the large number of data breaches happening all the time, this number will likely continue to grow.

With the near constant changes in technology, identity theft is constantly evolving. All that’s needed by a hacker is your Social Security number to drain your bank account, open a credit card or get medical treatments under your name and insurance. Thieves can even give your name to the police during an arrest.

ID theft can take many forms. Some of the most common include:

  • Government documents/benefits fraud
  • Credit card fraud
  • Phone or utilities fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Employment-related fraud
  • Loan fraud

It’s important to remember that it’s up to you to protect your identity. It requires much less work to take precautions against this crime than to correct the problem afterwards. The FTC estimates it takes about six months, or 200 hours of work to recover from the incident. This could extend upwards of a year or more depending on the case-by-case circumstances.

The choices you make every day could determine if you are susceptible to having your identity stolen. The sooner you realize that something could be wrong, the better.

To help you spot potential issues, we’ve put together a list of ID theft warning signs to watch out for:

  • Unexplained withdrawals from your bank account – this type of unauthorized activity could mean that a thief is draining your account.
  • Unexplained charges or unfamiliar accounts on your credit card bills – this could mean your credit card number was stolen and is being used for purchases.
  • Credit card or loan applications are denied. This means your credit score has been dragged down by the thief and lenders don’t trust you’ll be a reliable customer.
  • Errors in your credit report – this could be a warning sign that mortgages, credit cards or other types of loans could have been taken out in your name and are  affecting your credit score.
  • Missing mail – if you’ve noticed that mail is missing, especially bills, it could mean that your bills are being sent to your identity thief or are being stolen out of your mailbox before you had a chance to look over your charges.
  • Receiving unexpected mail – on the flip side, if you’ve started to receive mail you weren’t expecting or is unexplained, it could mean that credit cards have been opened in your name.
  • Debt collectors are calling with amounts that you have not spent.
  • Problems with your medical insurance or your health plan – if you’ve been rejected for health care coverage by your provider for an unexplained reason, it could mean that someone is using your identity to get expensive health procedures performed.

If you notice that something is wrong, it’s important to take action immediately. In this blog post we provide specific steps to take if you are a victim of identity fraud.

If you have questions about identity theft or want to learn more about these warning signs reach out to a MidWestOne banker in your neighborhood. We’re here to help!

About the author

Carrie White, is Second Vice President, Melbourne Market Manager for MidWestOne.

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