Tuesday, May 8, 2012, AM | 1 Comment
There are quite a few signs – some obvious, others not so obvious – that you can warn yourself and others how to prevent identity theft. No matter how much you try, I strongly believe there comes a time that almost everyone is haunted by identity theft in their lifetime. In other words, some experts suggest there cannot be 100% ways one can follow to prevent identity theft.
Having said that, there are identity theft warning signs that we should look out for:
Seeing unauthorized charges or withdrawals
Examine your bank statements closely for unauthorized charges or withdrawals. Contact your bank immediately for any discrepancies.
Not receiving renewed credit cards, bills, or other mail
When your credit card is about to expire, you should receive renewed credit card. If you don’t, it may be the sign of identity theft. Similarly, if you don’t get your monthly utility and other bills, chances are they are stolen from mailbox.
Receiving credit cards for which you did not apply
There may be times when you receive unsolicited credit cards. You may be tempted to use the card, but please don’t.
Notices for changes you did not initiate
Many folks have received mail or email showing changes that you had not initiated. So watch out for it and ask your credit company to explain.
Denial of credit for no apparent reason
If your credit score is good-to-excellent and your credit application is denied for apparently no good reason, don’t accept the denial and call the creditor for the reason.
Calls or letters about items or services you didn’t buy
This happens quite frequently. It happened to me once a few years ago. One company had directly charged my checking account for more than $150. Luckily, I found out sooner and the bank took care of it on my account.
Although it could be a simple error, never assume a mistake has been made that will automatically be corrected. Follow up with the business or institution.
Act Quickly If You Suspect Identity Theft
If you suspect that your personal information has been used wrongfully, immediately:
Review your credit reports
Place a fraud alert on your accounts
Close any accounts opened or used fraudulently
File a report with the police
File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
Monitor Your Financial Statements
Promptly read any account or credit card statements or correspondence when they arrive. Make sure there are no changes or transactions you did not initiate. If a bill arrives unusually late or not at all, call the company.
Also, be sure to monitor your credit for inaccuracies. As of September 1, 2005, all US residents are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can request your report at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Protect Your Personal Information
A few simple steps can go a long way. For example, shred sensitive documents instead of simply throwing them away. Also, be absolutely sure you know who you’re dealing with before giving any personal or financial information.
OnGuard Online, a site created by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), offers additional information on preventing identity theft.
In a Nutshell
Avoid using your Social Security number. Ask companies and government agencies you do business with if you can create an alternate username.
Source: TD Bank