Millions of Americans have been affected by identity theft. In 2019 alone, the Federal Trade Commission processed 3 million fraud reports, 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.
1. 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. A residential shredding service is an excellent choice for homeowners who want their documents shredded on-site.
2. 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.
3. 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?
4. 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.
5. Your Cellphone 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 for your banking
- Check your credit score at least once a year
- Don’t throw out anything with your name and personal information on it. Shred instead!
The thought of identity theft is frightening, but there are measures that can be implemented in order to best protect yourself. Shredding your documents is an important step in the right direction.
If you are looking for a professional shredding company who can assist you in identity theft prevention, contact Safeshred today at 1-800-987-4733.