Discovering that someone has stolen your identity isn’t the only shocking aspect of falling pretty to cybercriminals. Victims often don’t know how or when their identity was stolen. From sharing Wi-Fi to shopping on an unsecured site, there are many ways for criminals to steal your identity online.
To see if your identity has been stolen, you can run a background check on yourself. Simply type your name into the background check service’s search bar and see if anything strange surfaces. The moment one begins to suspect identity theft is just the beginning of their headache and uncertainty. By writing this article, we hope to ease your concerns and empower victims of cybercrime to act.
Defining Identity Theft
In the simplest terms, identity theft is when your data is stolen. This might include information such as your date and place of birth, phone number, email, or Social Security number. It might also extend to financial information, which is markedly worse. A cybercriminal who steals your financial data is likely to get access to your bank account.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), almost 10 million Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. Moreover, this number is growing with the increasing popularity of online shopping and remote work. The pandemic has contributed to the rising number of incidences of identity theft in multiple ways, often with dire consequences.
Signs of Identity Theft
Check your bank statement at least once every two weeks and look for transactions that weren’t made by you. Check your account for unfamiliar withdrawals. There might be inexplicable accounts on your credit report. A common sign that your identity was stolen is if your personal checks are rejected by a vendor you shop with often. In addition, your bills might stop coming in the mail because the thief has had your address changed. A merchant might decline your credit card for no good reason. Debt collectors call you about unpaid amounts, which you’re not familiar with.
If another person is using your name and address, you’ll get mail that’s meant for someone else. Victims of identity theft sometimes receive medical bills in the mail or are informed they’ve reached their medical plan limit, although they’re sure they haven’t.
Any suspicious information on credit reports is a red flag. The IRS might notify you that an additional return was filed on your behalf. Furthermore, you might get a W2 form for an employer you never had.
It’s critical not to postpone taking action, especially if you lose your wallet or someone steals it. Notify your credit card issuer or bank if your credit card was stolen and request a new one with a new number.
Is Someone Using Your SSN?
If you suspect a criminal is using your Social Security number, there are a few important things you can do. One is freezing your credit to stop the person from opening new accounts or a new credit line in your name. You can also have a fraud alert placed on your account to make it harder for the thief to use your identity to get money.
You might get a letter or email stating a breach compromised your data. In this case, your losses should be compensated for free. It is important to avoid deleting or discard any communication related to the data breach.
Take advantage of any free restoration offers available to you if a third party committed a breach and your information was exposed. Generally, this includes credit monitoring that’s free of charge over a certain period, usually 12 months. If you see unfamiliar accounts or transactions on your credit report, alert the FTC at once. Moreover, filing your taxes early can help to protect your data from cybercriminals. The IRS will process the correct tax return this way, stopping thieves from filing a fake return with your Social Security number to gain tax benefits. Click here to report another person misusing your personal details after stealing your identity.