Learning that you’ve had your identity stolen can be a horrible and stressful moment. Unfortunately, identity theft is a problem that happens all too often. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2016, 10 percent of people 16 and over had been victims of identity theft in the past 12 months.
Given that how prevalent this issue is, it is important that you are able to spot the signs and know what to do if you ever experience these issues. You need to learn how to minimize the chances that you will fall victim of identity theft and find what to do when you suspect that your identity has been stolen.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
When identity thieves gain access to your personal information, they can wreak havoc on your bank account and run up charges on credit cards and other accounts. Someone who steal your identity can even file a tax refund in your name and get a refund. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a thief can even give your name to the police during and arrest.
Luckily, you can prevent and solve these issues before they spiral out of control. There are a number of warning signs that point toward a stolen identity.
Some signs that his has happened include:
- Unexplained withdrawals
- You’re not getting your bills or mail
- Checks are being refused
- Debt collectors call you about debts you are unaware of
- You are finding unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report
It should also be noted that with recent advancements of technology, specifically smartphones, you can easily see if there are unexplained charges or other fraudulent activity that has taken place on your account in recent days or weeks. It is best to download your bank’s application and keep an eye on your finances.
Types of Identity Theft
You should be aware that there are a number of different types of identity theft that can affect many different areas of your life.
Tax-Related Identity Theft — The most common type of identity theft is wage- and tax-related fraud. This happens when someone steals your identity and files a fraudulent tax return in your name or when someone uses your identity to collect and earn wages.
Financial Identity Theft — This type of identity theft is when someone uses your personal information for financial gain. This includes credit card fraud and bank account fraud.
Medical Identity Theft — Medical identity theft occurs when an identity thief uses your identity to get healthcare. If you’ve received a doctor’s bill for treatment that you don’t remember getting, you may be a victim of medical identity theft.
If you see that there are problems, there are a number of steps that you should take.
What To Do
There are a number of resources that can help you if you have had your identity stolen. The FTC has a website in place that is meant to help people report identity theft and get a recovery plan in place. They will ask you a serious of question about your situation, from there they will create a personal recovery plan and, after creating an account, will work to walk through the steps of the recovery process.
The process of reporting fraud usually includes the following:
- Call the companies where the fraud occurs: Call the fraud department and ask them to close or freeze the accounts so no new charges can occur, and then change your logins and passwords.
- Place a fraud alert and check your credit: you can place fraud reports with any of the three credit bureaus, it is free and it will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name.
- Report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission: as mentioned before, you can report the problem on their website or give them a call.
Following these steps, you can even move to filing a report with your local police department. After this you should close any new accounts that were opened ion your name and move to remove fraudulent charges that were made from your accounts.
Prevent Identity Theft
If you are worried about identity theft and want to take a few preventative measures to avoid, here are a few tips that you can follow:
- Keep your Social Security number secure. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Only give it out when you need to.
- Keep personal information such as birthday and bank account number private.
- Collect your mail everyday.
- Pay attention your billing cycles.
- Utilize the security features on your phone.
- Use long, complex passwords when creating online accounts.
- Regularly review your credit card and bank account statements.
Identity theft can be scary and make you feel as though your life was violated, however by following some of these easy steps, you may be able to avoid the process completely.
Identity theft is a major problem in the United States that affects about 10 percent of people over the age of 16 and even can affect children younger than that. Identity theft can lead to a number of issues that can affect your credit and living situation. Some signs that you may have been a victim of identity theft include unexplained withdrawals, checks being refused, debt collectors calling about debts you are not aware of, and more. Unfortunately for some, financial duties may be too difficult for some older individuals. If this is the case, it is best to pass these responsibilities over to someone more cognitively capable.
Moreover, there are assisted living facilities that can help people who can no longer live independently. Landmark Senior Living can help older individuals with physical disabilities that they may be facing, including memory care for problems such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Landmark also provides residents with access to social activities and events to keep them entertained during their stay. If you are interested in learning more, please visit Landmark’s website and schedule a complimentary walkthrough of one of our last facilities.