As we come closer and closer to the holiday season, you want to enjoy this time of year as much as possible, especially after the events of this year. The last thing you want to think about is identity theft.
According to a 2018 study, nearly 60 million Americans have been affected by identity theft. In 2018 alone, the Federal Trade Commission processed 1.4 million fraud reports totaling 1.48 million dollars in fraud losses, with the most common categories of fraud including imposter scams, debt collection, and identity theft. Within identity theft claims, credit card fraud was most prevalent. Over 167,000 people reported that a fraudulent credit card was opened with their information.
To fight identity theft, early detection is key. You can stop identity theft in its tracks before things escalate. Here are some warning signs that you may be a victim of identity theft.
You’re Missing Mail or Email
Have you been waiting on items in the mail that you haven’t yet received? Or wondering where an email is that was supposed to come through weeks ago? Have you stopped receiving your credit statements? Identity thieves often resort to old-school tactics, such as dumpster diving or sifting through your mail. This is why shredding all documents with your name on it is crucial.
Purchases You Didn’t Make Appear on Your Credit Card Statements
This one may be common sense, but it’s important to read through your credit card statements every month to determine if any unknown purchases have been made and report them immediately.
Errors on Your Credit Report
When you are about to check your credit score, scan it through to see if there are any discrepancies or anything unusual. Have you been paying your bills every month only to see that your credit score is poor? Are there accounts on there that you never opened?
Collection Calls for Debt That Isn’t Yours
If you’ve been receiving phone calls about owing debt, it could be that someone is using your identity to rack up a big bill.
A Notice from Your Healthcare Insurance Company Says You’ve Reached Your Limit
Do you rarely use your health coverage, only to find out that it’s almost reached its max? Identity thieves aren’t only after your money: they want your healthcare coverage too.
Your Cell Phone Loses Service
If you have been paying your cell phone bill but you suddenly lose service, this could be an indicator of identity theft. Thieves will often upgrade their phones on your account, which would cause you to lose service. Make sure you reach out to your service provider.
I Think I May Be a Victim of Identity Theft. What Do I Do?
If you notice suspicious activity on your account, call your financial institution right away to notify them and to cancel any existing credit cards. A lot of banks have systems in place to notify you of suspicious activity and block unusual activity from happening.
How Can I Prevent Identity Theft?
Identity theft can happen to anyone but there are steps you can take to prevent it:
- Monitor your accounts regularly
- Protect your passwords by using a different one for separate accounts
- Only carry essential pieces of identification on you in case your wallet gets stolen (and don’t carry around your social insurance card!)
- Link a separate email account exclusive to your banking
- Check your credit score at least once a year
- Don’t throw out anything with your name and personal information on it
Physical Document Destruction: Your First Line of Defense
The thought of having your identity stolen is frightening, but destroying all of your confidential documents is a step you can take to protect yourself. To find out more about what Tri-State Shredding offers, check out our services page or give us a call at (717) 233-5606.