identity theft protection

Has your identity been stolen? Here are basic signs you may be an identity theft victim.

In just the blink of an eye, your iden­tity could no longer be just your own. With the inter­net widely avail­able and mod­ern tech­nolo­gies allow­ing iden­tity thieves poten­tial access to your per­sonal files through your com­puter, just one click of the mouse is some­times all it takes for your iden­tity to be stolen. That’s a pretty scary thought!

That’s why it is espe­cially impor­tant to know the ways you can deter­mine if an iden­tity thief has stolen your iden­tity. Unfor­tu­nately, for most of us, we dis­cover iden­tity theft only when it’s already too late. With these sim­ple tips, how­ever, you can learn to know how to quickly iden­tify if your iden­tity has been stolen.

Have You Stopped Receiv­ing Your Mail?

For an iden­tity thief, if they have your name and address, that is all it takes for them to reroute your mail to an address of their own choos­ing. How easy is it to change an address through the post office? You just fill out a form that you pick up from your post office and mail it in… or you can even change it over the inter­net. Once the iden­tity thief has your mail, they have access to all of your sen­si­tive doc­u­men­ta­tion, such as your bank accounts, credit card state­ments, and much more. This means that if you have not been get­ting your mail for an unusual length of time, then it is quite likely that your iden­tity may have been stolen and your mail has been routed to a new location.

You Just Got Offered a Ridicu­lously High Inter­est Rate

Your fam­ily is expand­ing and you need to pur­chase a new vehi­cle. You find the per­fect one right down the road at the local deal­er­ship, give it a test drive, and every­thing just seems to be per­fect. You thank the sales­per­son, sit down with the finan­cial per­son, and they give you the doc­u­men­ta­tion on your new vehi­cle loan that shows a 15.99% inter­est rate. This can be a sign of iden­tity theft… espe­cially if you know for cer­tain that you have con­sis­tently paid your bills on time.

Lenders base inter­est rates off of your credit score, so the higher the credit score you have, the lower inter­est rates you will receive when you apply for a new credit line. The reverse is also true - the lower the credit score, the higher the inter­est rate you’ll be offered for that new line of credit. If you feel like an inter­est rate offer is too high for your lik­ing, do some inves­ti­gat­ing before sign­ing your name on the dot­ted line because you just might find that an iden­tity thief has been at work.

You Get Strange Phone Calls from Blocked Numbers

If you’re like me, you don’t pick up phone calls from “pri­vate” or “blocked” par­ties on your cell phone. Those are gen­er­ally tele­mar­keters or peo­ple that you really just don’t feel like talk­ing to very often, right? Well - some­times those calls are also from col­lec­tors who are attempt­ing to col­lect on an over­due debt. If you’ve started get­ting a del­uge of these blocked calls or from 1-800 num­bers that you don’t rec­og­nize with voice­mails from peo­ple say­ing some vari­a­tion of “please con­tact me about an impor­tant busi­ness mat­ter imme­di­ately” and you haven’t gone more than 90 days past due on any of your bills, then you’ve likely got an iden­tity thief with your iden­tity. Ask for writ­ten copies of the debt so that you can dis­pute them, and if it is indeed an iden­tity thief, be sure to file a police report right away that you can send to the col­lec­tion agent in charge of the account.

Your Credit Report Has the Wrong Information

It might seem like com­mon sense, but some­times the eas­i­est way to detect iden­tity theft is to just take a good look at your credit reports from each credit report­ing agency. If you notice that there are changes to accounts that you haven’t made, new accounts you haven’t autho­rized, or your per­sonal con­tact infor­ma­tion is incor­rect, then you’ve likely got an iden­tity thief using your infor­ma­tion for their own ben­e­fit. By con­sis­tently mon­i­tor­ing your credit reports for inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion, you’ll be able to stop a lot of fraud before it even takes root.

You Get Strange Stuff in the Mail

Did you just get a sum­mons for a court appear­ance in the mail? Maybe you got infor­ma­tion about a new apart­ment that you just rented. You might even have found a brand new credit card with a nice line of credit in your mail. These and other unusual items that you can some­times receive in the mail are clear indi­ca­tions that some­one has used your iden­ti­fi­ca­tion infor­ma­tion improp­erly. It is also impor­tant to not ignore any mail that you receive that is unusual in nature, because ignor­ing a court sum­mons, for exam­ple, could result in an arrest warrant.

When you do receive mail like this, it is impor­tant to locate the con­tact infor­ma­tion included with the mail and have a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one on the other end of that num­ber as soon as you pos­si­bly can. This will allow you to close accounts, pre­vent hav­ing law enforce­ment from com­ing after you, or even hav­ing some­one not pay their rent and have a rental agency come after you for the money and secu­rity deposit.

Proac­tive Mon­i­tor­ing Helps Pre­vent Iden­tity Theft

The sin­gle best way that you can pre­vent your iden­tity from being stolen is to be proac­tively mon­i­tor­ing your credit reports and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­bers for sus­pi­cious activ­ity. You can do this on your own by order­ing your free credit reports that you are enti­tled to every year, but you can also do this with a pro­fes­sional iden­tity theft pre­ven­tion plan that takes all of the guess­work out of pro­tect­ing your iden­tity. Your iden­tity doesn’t have to be stolen… but if it is, be sure to fol­low these iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tips so that you can stop iden­tity thieves as soon as possible.

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