Identity theft is scary for good reason: It’s hard to prove, tough to spot and can be devastating. And in many cases, you don’t realize anything is wrong until the damage has been done.
Watching out for warning signs you may be being targeted will bring you some peace of mind.
There are many ways an identity thief can attempt to steal your personal information and cause real damage. Read on for five of the top warning signs to watch out for.
1. Strange banking activity
Charges appearing on your bank or credit card account without your knowledge has long since been a warning sign of fraud, but identity thieves can take extra steps to make these charges hard to spot, often making purchases for amounts and at retailers that won’t stand out at a quick glance.
Regular monitoring of your account activity is a great practice but can become tedious over time. Consider configuring your banking app on your phone to notify you every time a new charge appears on your card. This way as you go about your life and make purchases you can be sure whatever charges appear on your card were purchases made by you without having to dedicate time in your day to scrolling through your history.
2. 2FA and login alerts
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a way to securely login to accounts. Depending on the account, if the service supports 2FA, simply inputting your username and password won’t be enough to log in. You’ll have to enter the passcode sent to your phone to get into the account.
If you are ever notified about an attempt to access an account of yours that was not made by you, it’s important to change your passwords even if 2FA prohibited access to your account. Keep in mind, however, that location data is often general, so if you are notified of a login attempt to your account from a nearby place, it may not be cause for concern.
3. Changes to your credit report
Unlike your credit card accounts, your credit report will not be updated regularly. Notifications about any kind of change to your credit report or unexplainable credit inquiries can be warning signs someone is attempting to steal your identity.
Depending on your needs and financial situation, freezing your credit can be a good way to make sure thieves don’t access your credit or otherwise open accounts in your name. Credit freezes can be enabled and disabled at will, so you can choose to have your reports normally frozen and unfreeze them when the time comes to make changes to them you decide upon.
Not sure where to start when it comes to your credit report? Tap or click here check your credit report for free.
4. Sudden billing changes
If bills for longstanding expenses stop coming or start coming in a way or frequency you’re not used to, this can be a warning sign an identity thief is trying to steal your identity. Thieves can attempt to re-route mail or open accounts for services you pay for under different names and send them to your address to trick you.
Switching whatever statements you can to online billing not only cuts down on paper waste, but it’s much easier to spot a strange piece of mail when all your bills are handled online. Plus, many companies offer discounts for choosing to process payments online instead of through the mail.
5. Credit card, insurance claim or loan rejections
While you may not keep real-time track of your credit score, if you are rejected for, say, a new credit card when you have good credit, this can be a sign of fraud. Any rejection that is based on your credit report can mean a thief has opened an account in your name and ruined your credit.
Important note: If you choose to freeze your credit, you have to remember to unfreeze it whenever you want to apply for a credit account.
More resources to protect yourself
Signs someone opened a bank account in your name – And what to do about it