Victims of identity theft suffer great loss of time and money. While most credit card companies have no policies on fraud liability, consumers can end up spending many hours and hundreds of dollars dealing with identity theft.
The key to effectively fighting identity theft is early detection. The sooner you find out about the occurrence of identity theft, the sooner you can put in place measures to correct any damages done and to prevent more damage. Learn how to detect the following signs early so you can respond quickly.
You receive collection calls from accounts that you never opened
The first indication of identity theft is calls from debt collectors. By the time they start calling you, identity thieves have probably been using your account for months. If the collection agency calls you about an account you never opened, let them know the debt is not yours. Obtain a copy of your credit report and review it. Place a security freeze and fraud alert to prevent further fraud.
Your credit report contains an account you did not open
In case you find an account on your credit report that you did not open, this is one of the signs of identity theft. Don’t just assume it’s an error made by the credit card company or the credit bureau. Even if the account does not have a negative payment history, don’t ignore it. Use the credit report dispute processes to have the account removed from your report and inform the creditor about the fraud.
You’re unexpectedly denied a loan, credit card, or similar service
Fraudulent accounts can lead to lenders not approving you for loan or credit card products, especially if the accounts have high balances or a negative payment history.
Lenders are legally required to tell you if you have been denied credit as a result of information on your credit report. They will share the reasons and let you know that you’re legally entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major US credit bureaus; Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian.
Your credit report has inquiries from companies you don’t recognize
Credit reports contain soft inquiries typically made for promotional purposes and hard inquiries that usually result from applications either made by you or an identity thief. Unfamiliar hard inquiries may be an indication that someone has used your name to apply for credit products.
If you notice such inquiries, place a fraud alert on your report to alert the businesses to confirm your identity before granting loans. Monitor your credit reports continually to see if fraudulent transactions are made and deal with them appropriately.
You suddenly stop receiving credit card bills
Thieves can reroute your mail to a different address by altering address forms. If your credit reports suddenly stop coming monthly, call the credit card company to confirm it’s sending your statements to the correct address. Also, make sure your mailbox is secured so that your mail is not stolen.
Diana T. Logan has been a professional personal finance writer for eight years. She is passionate about giving others advice on debt management and recognizing the signs of identity theft. Visit this website for more information.