Your credit card information is valuable to scammers, but there is one thing that they desire the more: your personal information. Tap or click here to see 10 accounts more valuable to cybercriminals than your credit card.
Identity theft is a growing concern, with more than 16.4 million people falling victim to it in 2014. That skyrocketed to 49 million people in 2020, resulting in a staggering $56 billion in losses. Unfortunately, most victims realize too late that their identity has been stolen, making it so much harder to regain control.
Luckily, there are a few signs to watch for so you can act swiftly and minimize the damage. Read on to find out how to spot identity theft and what you can do about it.
1. A credit card opened in your name
There are few things worse than receiving an invoice for something you didn’t purchase. It could be a billing error or something more sinister like identity theft. A tell-tale sign that someone stole your identity is when a credit card or service is opened in your name.
These scenarios are incredibly stressful, but there are some things that you can do:
- Regularly check your banking statements – Look for any unusual activity. If you see anything suspicious, report it to your bank.
- Review your credit report – Check it for accounts you didn’t open or inquiries you don’t recognize. A new credit card, a personal loan, or a car loan will appear as a new account. A new cell phone plan or utility service like water, gas, or electric will show up as an inquiry
- Set up alerts – Sign up to get text or email alerts from your credit card or bank whenever there’s a new transaction. This could help you spot unauthorized or fraudulent activity on your accounts.
2. Tax identity theft or stolen Social Security number
Nobody likes filing taxes. But it can be even more stressful when the IRS notifies you of another filed tax return. You should only submit one tax return to the IRS, so it might indicate tax identity theft if there are more.
- Tax ID theft – A notice from the IRS that there’s more than one tax return filed in your name could be a sign of tax identity theft. Contact the IRS immediately to find out what’s going on.
- Watch for unauthorized employment – A notice that you have income from an employer you don’t work for is a sign someone stole your Social Security number so they can get a job.
3. Unemployment benefits
Unemployment claims spiked during the pandemic. So have fraudulent unemployment claims. Unfortunately, you will only be aware of it once you get a notice from the state unemployment benefits office. Here’s what to do if you receive a notification:
- Report the fraud to the state unemployment benefits agency.
- You should also report the incident to your employer and keep record all conversations, references and case numbers.
If you discover signs that someone is misusing your personal information, find out how to handle it at IdentityTheft.gov.