Identity theft can feel like the ultimate “worst case scenario,” but for many the dread of not knowing if they’ve already been targeted can be even worse. Bearing in mind that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 4.2 million reports of fraud and identity theft in 2021, it’s hard to deny the possibility that your identity may fall into the wrong hands at some point.
Fortunately, there are clear signs to warn you that someone else may be using your identity.
1. Changes to Your Credit Report
What to look for: new accounts and/or new credit inquiries you don’t recognize. This may be an indicator that someone has used your identity to take out a loan or make a large purchase. Be wary of any sudden change in credit score.
Hear one Member’s story of how AAA Identity Champion monitoring alerts and customer support “saved his bacon” when identity thieves deployed a complex scheme that included re-routing his mail.
Helpful Hint: To go through your credit report in detail, you can order a free copy through www.annualcreditreport.com.
2. Discrepancies in Credit Card and Bank Statements
What to look for: Check your credit card and bank statements regularly for purchases or withdrawals you don’t recognize. Pay attention to monthly bills and take note if statements stop coming in the mail, as this could be a sign that a fraudster has changed your mailing address.
Helpful Hint: Criminals may charge a small amount to see if the transaction goes through before making a bigger move. See if your bank offers text or email alerts to notify you of new transactions and help you minimize the damage if your financial information is compromised.
3. Unexpected Mail from Government Agencies
What to look for: Pay attention to any unexpected mail from government agencies. A notice from a state or federal agency regarding unemployment or disability claims could be a sign that a scammer is using your identity to collect benefits. A letter from the IRS may mean that the fraudster is using your identity to cash in on your tax return.
Helpful Hint: Whether or not you’re able to check your physical mailbox daily, you can set up an informed delivery account with the US Post office that will send you notifications of incoming mail before it arrives, allowing you to spot potential fraud sooner.
4. Fraudulent Healthcare Statements
What to look for: If you receive an explanation of benefits from your insurance company for services you did not receive or a denial of coverage for a medical condition for which you did not seek treatment, this could be a sign of medical identity theft.
Helpful Hint: When disposing of healthcare bills, forms, or statements containing personal information, make sure you shred them.
What To Do Next
If you notice any of these signs of fraud, you should take immediate action:
- Report your case to the Federal Trade Commission, who can pass the information on to more than 3,000 law enforcement agencies.
- Put a freeze or lock on your credit file to prevent fraudsters from opening any other accounts or taking out further loans.
- File a report with your local police department, as the report itself can serve as evidence against any additional fallout related to the scam.
- Cancel your debit/credit cards and transfer money to a new bank account.
No one wants to deal with the fallout from identity theft and fraud, but catching the signs early can help minimize the damage. It can be challenging to keep watch all the time but a monitoring service can help. AAA Identity Champion offers credit monitoring, as well as Internet and Dark Web Monitoring, to help you identify potential scammers as early as possible. Our identity protection plans start at $0 for existing AAA members. Browse your options today so you can be assured your identity is more secure by tomorrow.