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If you were a victim of identity theft, would you even know it? Eventually you’ll find out, but it might happen during the most inconvenient of times – like trying to pay your bills or apply for a new loan.

Identity theft is a pervasive crime that affects millions of Americans every year who may not even know they’ve become victims for days, weeks, or even months after the fact. Checking your credit report is one way to discover if you may be a victim of identity theft, but not all credit reporting agencies offer free reports on-demand, making it costly and inconvenient to ensure your credit and identity are secure.

Also, your credit report isn’t always the barometer by which you should judge the security of your identity. This is because there may be a month-long lag in what’s happened and when it shows up on your report. It’s also possible that some forms of identity theft can go unflagged by a credit report.

If you’re looking for alternative ways to find out if you may have been a victim of identity theft, the following are some of the most common warning signs:

  • There are unexplained withdrawals from your bank account. These may be significant sums or relatively small (but still significant) so as to not draw too much attention.
  • There are unexplained purchases from online retailers. In some cases, fraudsters who gain access to your accounts for online retailers may purchase gift cards worth significant sums of money. Their goal is to re-sell these cards online for cash.
  • Your checks bounce. A common nightmare for anyone who knows they had sufficient funds, sometimes being notified that a check you wrote has bounced is the first tip-off that something is wrong.
  • Your credit card statement has unfamiliar charges. Like your bank account, these may be egregious charges or small enough to avoid suspicion for as long as possible.
  • A collections company has called to collect a debt. If someone has stolen your identity to open a new line of credit in your name, collectors will inevitably call you to collect the debt that the wrongdoers accrued.
  • You are denied health insurance coverage. In cases where your identity has been used for health insurance purposes, your medical record may show you as having a condition you do not actually have. This can threaten your ability to receive coverage for your next legitimate claim.
  • Your bank or credit card company sends you a fraud prevention alert. Some financial institutions have protective measures in place to fight against fraud.
  • You are notified by the IRS. If a wrongdoer has filed a fraudulent tax return using your identity, it’s likely that you’ll be hearing from the IRS soon.

What If I See One of These Warning Signs?

If you think you’ve become a victim of identity theft, quickly try to assess the potential extent. Are there only unexplained charges on your credit card, or is money missing from your bank account, too? Did your credit score suddenly plummet, or did you receive a collections call for a debt you did not owe?

As soon as you think you’ve become aware that you may have been a victim of identity theft, contact a credit reporting agency such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. When you report fraud with one of these agencies, it is required to notify the other two.

You may also need to take steps to report the incident with your lenders, bank, and insurance companies. You should also file a police report, which the credit reporting agencies will need to fully investigate the fraudulent activity.

After you’ve done this, it might be time to revaluate the passwords you’ve created, how you keep information online, and how you keep physical copies of records or dispose of them.

How Can I Protect Myself against Identity Theft?

There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from identity theft that you can read in one of our other blogs. Among them, however, is to consider an identity theft insurance policy that can cover you even if you’ve made your information as secure as feasibly possible.

Insurances Specialists, Inc. can help you find the policy that’s right for you if you want to have some assurance that the impact of identity theft can be mitigated should it occur. While you can lessen the chance of becoming a victim, the probability is never zero – it’s for that reason alone that many people choose to add an identity theft insurance policy to their lives.

For more information, please reach out to Insurance Specialists, Inc. online or by calling us at (888) 451-0883.