Not sure how to tell if your identity has been stolen? By carefully monitoring your credit, bank accounts, medical bills, and other important records, you may be able to spot signs of identity theft quickly, so you can limit the damage. Using an identity protection service like ours can add an additional layer of detection.
In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received fraud reports from more than 2.8 million consumers — and 1.4 million reports about identity theft specifically.
So you may be wondering: how can I check if someone is using my identity?
The good news is that there are a few ways to spot signs of identity theft.
If you regularly check your bank accounts and credit reports, or use a credit monitoring service like the one we offer, you may realize that your information has been compromised more quickly than those who don’t keep tabs on their credit and finances.
When identity theft occurs, it’s important to act quickly to minimize the damage. Knowing the signs of identity theft can help you always be prepared. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to tell if your identity has been stolen.
How to check if someone is using your identity
Some signs of identity theft are easy to spot.
There are certain red flags that can indicate when your personal information is being misused by an identity thief. For example, you may get a notification from an identity monitoring service like ours.
Here are some additional common signs to watch out for:
You receive fraud alerts from your bank or credit card company
You experience unexpected difficulty in securing credit
You get bills for products or services you did not purchase
You’re missing physical mail, such as account statements from your bank or financial institution
You receive emails or phone calls about purchases you didn’t make or money you didn’t borrow
Where to check for identity theft
If you’re looking for signs of identity theft, keep a close eye on the following documents:
Your credit report
A credit report details every financial move you’ve ever made. If a criminal is using your information to open new accounts or new lines of credit, you may see signs of fraudulent activity here.
When reviewing your credit report, first check that your personally identifiable information (PII) is correct. This includes your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number.
If you see variations of your name that you’ve never used, addresses or phone numbers that you don’t recognize, or an error in your Social Security number, contact the credit bureau that supplied the report immediately to flag and fix the error.
Next, scan your credit report for lender inquiries. When you make a big purchase — like a home or car — prospective lenders check your credit before they approve you for the purchase. This means that their names will appear on your report.
If you see lender inquiries that you don’t recognize, follow the same steps as above and investigate further with the credit bureau. Or, if you’re a member and you think you may be experiencing fraud, contact us right away, and we’ll get to work investigating the issue.
When looking over your credit report, there are a few other things to keep in mind. If you share responsibility for an account like a co-signed mortgage or car loan, those accounts will also appear in your report. Public records like bankruptcies, foreclosures, tax liens, and some lawsuits may also show up in a credit report.
Dramatic changes in your credit score can also signal a problem. If your spending habits are consistent, your credit score should be consistent too.
Your bank statements
We recommend regularly checking your bank statements for incorrect or suspicious activity. Even minor transactions that don’t look right or that you don’t remember making could signal a problem with your identity.
Report any fraudulent activity to your financial institution right away.
Your credit card statements
It’s also smart to review your credit card accounts regularly and make sure that you recognize all the charges reflected there.
Inaccuracies in your credit card statement — even small ones — can point to a larger or ongoing problem.
If you notice incorrect or suspicious charges, you’ll want to reach out to your credit card company to report the issue.
Your medical bills
Medical identity theft is more common than you might think — and unfortunately, it can have lasting implications on your health and privacy.
Most health insurance companies provide an explanation of benefits (EOB) before you receive a bill. These statements can serve as an early warning system against medical identity theft and fraud. If you receive an EOB, make sure that you check it carefully and thoroughly.
The same goes for medical bills. If you receive a bill that includes charges for appointments you did not make or services you did not receive, contact your healthcare provider and insurance as soon as possible.
Your tax records
Tax refund fraud happens to thousands of people each year.
The scheme often unfolds like this: a fraudster gets ahold of your Social Security number and uses it to file a tax return in your name in an attempt to claim an unearned refund.
This is why you should guard your personal information carefully, especially your Social Security number.
In addition, be aware of phishing scams that attempt to get your PII — especially during tax season.
How we help you check for identity theft
If you're a member and you suspect identity theft, we're here to assist.
Members have round-the-clock access to certified specialists who can help investigate the issue. If fraud has occurred, they'll guide you through next steps. And they won't stop until everything's right again.
If you’re ever in doubt, or you’re just looking for guidance on how to check if someone is using your identity, don't hesitate to give us a call.