Is someone scoping out your identity?
There are many ways that identity thieves can steal your personal information. They might tap into your social media or business networking profiles. They steal purses, wallets, laptops, mobile phones, mail, and even trash. They watch over your shoulder as you login to accounts in public. They place credit card skimmers at the checkout of your local store or gas station. They call with bogus scams and send phishing emails to trick you into giving them information.
Data breaches are on the rise
Another way identity thieves obtain personal data is through corporate breaches, which have become commonplace. Marriott, Facebook, Google and Orbitz are but a few. These breaches impact millions of consumers worldwide. And one out of every three data breach victims experience fraud.1
The amount of data stolen in a single breach can be staggering. In the U.S., there were 1,636 breaches in the first nine months of 2018, compared to 119 in the United Kingdom, and 80 in Canada. In 2017, 43 percent of U.K. businesses and 19 percent of charities were breached.2 Maybe that is why fraudsters can buy the complete identity file of a U.K. citizen on the dark web for just £820—passport information only for £40!3
Stay vigilant for these 15 warning signs of identity theft
Consumers must monitor for signs of identity theft and fraud. You can never afford to shrug off oddities on your credit card or bank statements. A quick reaction to the first symptoms of identity theft can help you avoid anxiety, lost time, and lost money.
Here are fifteen warning signs that someone else might be using your identity:
- You receive a data breach notice from a company.
- Your credit score is inexplicably dropping.
- You notice withdrawals from your bank account you didn’t make.
- There are charges on your credit card you can’t explain.
- Credit card and bank statements or other bills stop arriving.
- Calls come in from debt collectors about debts that aren’t yours.
- You are unexpectedly turned down for a loan or credit card.
- Your credit report shows accounts you did not open.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Your taxing authority received multiple filings to your account.
- You receive a bill but have not purchased anything from the company.
- Earnings on your U.S. Social Security Statement don’t match your records.
- Insurance rates go up significantly but you haven’t filed any claims.
- You don’t receive an expected job offer after employer runs a background check.
- An apartment rental application is turned down after the landlord checks credit.
Guard against identity theft with “SCAM”
Taking proactive precautions now can save you a world of trouble if it prevents identity thieves from obtaining your personal information. Use the “SCAM” acronym to improve your security:
STINGY is the smart way to approach sharing personal information. Turn up your settings and don’t overshare on social media. Shred paperwork and bills. Don’t respond to unsolicited calls or emails.
CHECK your financial information regularly. Review bank statements and credit card bills monthly for suspicious activity and challenge any unauthorized charges.
ASK for credit reports every year from the major credit bureaus. In the U.S. each bureau Is required to provide a free annual credit report.
MANAGE the damage. Take advantage of a program where professionals help you resolve identity compromises, like the services powered by CyberScout.
We have partnered with CyberScout to offer comprehensive identity management services. If you detect suspicious activity or would like to proactively protect your identity, contact us at 800-887-0220 to be connected to a CyberScout fraud expert.
1“2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity,” Javelin Strategy & Research, 2018.
2"Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018," Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, 2018.
3“Your Entire ID is Worth £820 to Crooks on the Dark Web Black Market,” The Register, March 8, 2018.
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