The digital revolution has elevated our comfort level by integrating our personal information and finances with online applications.
You can pay your bills with a single click or thumb impression via online banking, without entering your credentials with every login.
However, your online confidential information can be compromised without your knowledge, causing a major personal or financial loss. This phenomenon is commonly known as identity theft, where cybercriminals steal or hack your personal information and misuse it without your consent.
Despite the efforts of companies and banks to secure their users’ information, identity breaches are exponentially increasing in the following forms, causing billions of dollars of loss every year:
- Credit/debit card information theft
- Bank account details hacking
- Social media credentials theft
What’s worse is that people get to know about their stolen identity only after an unexpected cash withdrawal happens, or they’re unable to access their social media or email accounts. At this point, permanent damage is done, which could have been averted by identifying the warning signs of identity theft.
- Regular Monitoring of Your Financial Statements
You must make a habit of analyzing your credit and debit cards’ financial statements to check if there are any unknown or unauthorized purchases. Hackers generally make an unnoticeable small test transaction to see if the stolen identity is working or not.
You can also enable your SMS and email alerts to keep an eye on all your money transactions.
- Missing Email or Physical Mail
After stealing your personal information, the identity thief may change your email and mailing address so that you don’t find out about unauthorized transactions. You should suspect that something is up if you stop receiving your monthly financial statement from your bank.
Make sure that you set up all the potential ways that you can receive the financial statement. Set up both SMS and email alerts as soon as possible.
- Duplicate Credit Card Request
An identity thief can apply for a duplicate credit card after acquiring your personal information. If your bank calls about a duplicate card request on your behalf, don’t treat this as a mistake!
Sometimes, people ignore such confirmation calls. As a result, identity thieves misuse your credit card to spend your money. Once they finish shopping, they close your account and vanish into thin air. After that, you’ll be the one getting notices and calls from a credit agency for an overdue debt that comes completely out of the blue.
- Unknown Information on Credit Reports
After stealing your identity, a hacker can apply for a big loan in your name. This is why you should sign up to receive quarterly reports from big credit bureaus like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These will help you lookout for new account openings or credit applications on your behalf.
- Inexplainable Denial of Credit
If you’re denied a credit card or a loan, despite having good credit, you may be a victim of identity theft. The hacker may have messed up your credit history without your knowledge. Hence, it is vital to check your credit history every month as it can serve as a warning of someone stealing your identity.
- Unexplained Reduction in Credit Score
Having a high credit score is a significant achievement that gives you multiple advantages and financial stability. A sudden drop in your credit score should raise the alarm in your mind, and you should verify your credit balance as soon as possible.
One of the major reasons for an unexpected fall in credit score is identity theft, which allows hackers to open new accounts in your name to run up your credit balance.
- Wrong Income Tax Filing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
Tax-related identity theft is associated with stolen social security numbers. The identity thief can file your income tax with the IRS using your social security information. However, you can only check this issue at the IRS when you file your income tax yourself.
The identity thief can claim a tax amount by filing a wrong income tax return. Hence, it’s always better to fill your income tax return form to save yourself from tax-related identity theft as early as possible.
- Social Security Statement
You’re in pretty big trouble if someone steals your social security number. The identity thief may start a new job or indulge in illegal activities with your social security number and you will be on the hook for those activities. It’s your duty, not just as an individual, but also as a responsible citizen to monitor your social security statement and avoid identity theft.
If you see any unknown earnings or income streams, it implies a misuse of your personal information, which you should report immediately.
- Unexpected Notice from Your Health Insurance Company
Receiving an unusual notice from your health insurance company about the full utilization of your health benefits can indicate identity theft. Identity thieves can pose as you and steal your healthcare information to rack up medical expenses on your behalf, which exhausts your health benefits limit.
If you find one of these signs of identity theft, it means that your data has been breached. Heres how to check to see if your data was breached and what to do after a data breach. That should help you navigate the lengthy, annoying and frustrating identity theft recovery process! Oh, and be sure to choose one of these password management apps to improve your password security! This is a major protector against future identity theft…