Identity theft can happen to any one of us. It has become terribly common and almost too easy for thieves to get their hands on our personal information. Identity theft can happen because of phishing attacks, company breaches, hacking, or a stolen wallet. Unfortunately, we may not know it is happening until it is too late. Keeping your identity safe both physically and digitally is crucial, but if you think your identity was stolen, here are five ways to tell. 

1. Unauthorized Bank Transactions

One of the easiest ways to tell if your identity was stolen is by finding unauthorized bank or credit transactions on your statements. It can be easy to miss them if they are small enough not to cause alarm, but it is essential to keep an eye out for stray transactions that you don’t recognize. Thieves often start small to ensure you don’t notice before turning it up a notch and going in for the larger purchases. If you even have a strange feeling, it is best to freeze your account and get to the bottom of it. 

2. Unexpected Credit Score Drops 

It is normal for your credit score to go up or down a few points every couple of months, but if you suddenly see that your score is drastically lower than it was the last time you checked and you haven’t made any significant changes in your life, it could be because of a thief. Identity thieves will often open accounts in your name or take out loans, and they will inevitably not pay them back, causing your credit score to plummet rapidly. One missed payment can significantly drop your score. If you see this, you need to investigate. 

3. Calls From Debt Collectors

If you start getting phone calls or letters from debt collectors reaching out about debts you do not owe, this is another clear sign of identity theft. It is very easy to assume that a thief racked up debts in your name, and now you are facing the consequences. If this is the case, speak with the debt collectors about what they are referring to and get as much information about the transaction as possible. However, be wary about providing personal information, especially if they are accounts you don’t recognize. If the debt is not yours, it is time to start the process of denying the debt and reporting identity theft.

4. Denial of Loan or Credit Applications

If you are applying for a loan or credit card and have a solid credit history and no fear of rejection but then get rejected, there could be an outside reason for the companies to deny you. If you are getting denied by one or more credit companies, it could be because a thief has damaged your credit history. Many times, if you are rejected, the companies must explain why. This is your chance to see whether or not you need to take the next steps to report identity theft. 

5. Mail Starts Disappearing or Arriving With a Different Name 

The fifth sign of identity theft you should look out for is any strange happenings with your mail. If you start to see that expected mail is not arriving or that you are getting mail in someone else’s name, it could be a sign of identity theft. Additionally, if you get bills or statements in your name but don’t recognize the transactions or accounts, this should be cause for alarm. Keeping an eye on your mail can help you stop identity theft before it spirals into something larger. This also means taking in your mail when it is dropped off and not allowing it to sit there. Many thieves will steal from mailboxes to obtain your name and address. 

6. Strange Inquiries on Your Credit Reports.   

Your credit reports tell you what creditors have accessed your credit information to determine whether to give you a loan.  At the bottom of the credit reports, look for two sections labeled “Inquiries” and “Hard Inquiries.” These are pulls from your credit from creditors looking to extend loans or insurance and they do affect your credit score. If there are companies there who you have never heard of or did not apply for credit, this too may be a sign of identity theft.

These are only six of the many ways you can spot identity theft. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, the best thing you can do is check it out and keep yourself safe. If you have further questions or have been trying to get your identity back in shape to no avail because of the companies involved, contact the team at Stecklein Robertson Law.