Identity Theft Warning Signs
Identity theft is a growing concern for police departments across the nation. Unfortunately, even the most discerning people can get caught up in a scam or have their identity stolen. With so many people utilizing the internet for shopping, banking and bill payments, personal information is now more easily accesible than ever. Below is a list of the most common types of idenity theft and the warning signs you should be looking for to help protect yourself from monetary loss or damage to your credit score. When in doubt, always trust your instinct and stop the transaction or interaction. Upper Gwynedd Police officers are always here to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
1. Credit identity theft
Credit identity theft happens when a criminal uses your personal information, such as birthdate and Social Security number, to apply for a new credit line.
Warning signs: You might see an unexpected change in your credit scores or an account you don’t recognize on your credit reports. You may get debt collection notices or a court judgment against you. The best way to prevent it is to freeze your credit.
2. Child identity theft
Criminals steal a child’s identity and apply for credit in that child’s name. Often it is not discovered until the victim applies for college loans or other credit.
Warning signs: If your child is getting offers of credit cards or phone calls about overdue payments or debt collections, investigate. You can freeze your child's credit to prevent it.
3. Taxpayer identity theft
Sometimes fraudsters use a Social Security number to file a tax return and steal your tax refund or tax credit.
Warning signs: You may be unable to e-file because someone else has already filed under that Social Security number, you get an IRS notice or letter referencing activity you knew nothing about, or IRS records suggest you worked for an employer that you did not. Filing early can help you beat criminals to filing in your name, and some states offer six-digit identity protection PINs (after a rigorous verification) with additional security.
4. Medical identity theft
Using someone else’s identity to get health care services is medical identity theft. It’s particularly dangerous because it can result in medical histories being mixed, giving doctors and hospitals wrong information as they are making health care decisions.
Warning signs: Claims or payments on your insurance explanation of benefits that you do not recognize can suggest that someone is using your health care benefits. If you have fallen victim, you’ll need to both report it to your insurance company and inform your health care team to be sure information in your health care records is actually yours.
5. Account takeover
Criminals use personal data to access your financial accounts, then change passwords or addresses so that you no longer have access.
Warning signs: An email, letter or text from your financial institution that refers to an action (like a password or email change) or transaction you don't recognize.