Identity Theft – The Evidence to Look For
Identity theft is a bitch! Someone takes your name, your good credit, your accounts and even your job and walks away. Make no mistake that identity theft is a major problem in the United States and the world. And identity thieves are rarely caught. That’s what really pisses you off.
There are ways to discover if your identity has been stolen if you know what to look for. Let’s talk about that so you can react to the situation quickly and effectively.
- Unusual bank statement and card activity – Keep your eye on your money! I have said this many times before and I am going to say it again; Black people don’t play when it comes to money! You should be checking your accounts and balances every night before you lay down. Sleep knowing your money is under control. If you see anything that is not kosher report it immediately. Don’t hesitate to put a freeze on any account until you are satisfied the situation has been corrected. If you have to demand a new card be issued. And any suspicious charge, even if it’s only a ten cent charge to your card, should alarm you. Why? Because criminals will charge a small amount to an account or card to see if it is an active account. If it works they can charge larger amounts.
- Your online accounts stop working – If a cyber criminal gets hold of your log-in or passwords the first thing they’ll do is change the password in order to lock you out. That’s called account take over fraud. Its especially bad if they do this to your bank accounts so pay attention. Another issue is SIM swapping scams where they’ve managed to trick your mobile operator to port your number to a device under their control. This is particularly dangerous as it means they’ll be able to intercept any one-time SMS passcodes often used by banks to validate your identity. Make sure you have a lock on your mobile phone account to prevent anyone from taking over and porting your account. Anytime your online accounts are not acting as expected the first thing you need to do is change your password. Then report the situation to the company, then go back to step one and check for fraudulent charges. Also keep an eye on your email for notifications that you have purchased something or something has been shipped to another address from that account. And whenever possible use two factor authentication for all accounts that involve your money or credit cards.
- Medical bills and claims – Did you get medical bill for services you never received? Or you try to submit a claim and discover you have already exceeded your claim limit set by your provider? That could mean someone has stolen your medical insurance information along with your identity and are getting treatment on your dime. Identity thieves use fake identities to make claims, buy medical equipment and charge it your insurance. In countries with private healthcare systems, such scams can be highly lucrative.
- The Terrifying Three! – Debt Collection, Tax Filing Problems, Driver’s License – There nothing more terrifying that dealing with a bill collector with all your information and no qualms about destroying your credit or calling the cops on you for fraudulent charges. Or maybe the IRS claiming you made $50,000 more than you reported and filed multiple claims for refunds. How about being arrested and handcuffed for tickets you did not get but someone with your identity did? These are the terrifying three.
Debt collection – Identity thieves can rack up a huge credit card bills or similar debt in your name and vanish. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before the lender asks a collection agency to investigate and that’s when they show up at your door with the bills. Trying to get it straighten out can be a nightmare and could destroy your credit. Be alert to bills coming to you in the mail for items or credit cards you never applied for. That is a definite sign something is up. What to do?
Step 1) Call the cops and document everything.
Step 2) Notify your banks and creditors and freeze all accounts.
Step 3) Notify the credit reporting agencies and request credit monitoring.
Tax filing problems – Stolen identity often involves stolen Social Security numbers. Another common identity theft scam is the use of Social Security numbers and other personal details to file personal taxes early, impersonating the victim. The identity thief maybe working and making money in your name or able to fraudulently claim any tax refunds due or both leaving you to have deal with the IRS. You could be in the horrible position of being unable to file your taxes, this could be the reason.
Driving records – Are you getting notices in the mail about unpaid tickets you never got? Is someone driving around with your name on a driver’s license. Perhaps even in another state. You may not know it until you are in handcuffs for failing to appear or pay fines. If you get even a single ticket that does not belong to you report it immediately to the local police and the police of the state where the ticket was issued. And do it quickly!
These are some clues to identity theft. You need to be on the look out at all time for anything that does not add up with your money or online accounts. And never ignore a news of a data breach. Make sure you are not caught up in one. Data breaches are a prime source for identity information. Stay alert!
If you think, even for a second, someone has stolen your identity report it to the police, the credit agencies, the IRS and state agencies. Also visit identitytheft.gov and consumer.gov for more information.
Now you know.