Each year, millions of Americans are victimized by identity theft but never realize something is wrong until it’s too late. While you can never completely prevent identity theft, stopping it early can save you time, money, and hassle. Keep reading to learn more about how you can spot potential identity theft.
If you don’t get a bill or bank statement for a month, don’t just assume it never came or got lost in the mail. Identity thieves regularly take mail out of people’s mailboxes to steal their personal information. This is especially true for homeowners who have a mailbox without a lock at the end of their driveway.
If you have missing mail, report it to the sender and pay closer attention to your credit reports. You can prevent mail theft by installing a lock on your mailbox if you don’t have one — these boxes have slots for your letter carrier to slide mail in. Even better, skip the mail altogether by using online statements whenever possible.
If you notice your trashbin has been disturbed, it may not have been an animal. Identity thieves will go through your trash looking for discarded bank statements, receipts, and other documents with your personal information. If your trash bag rips, you also run the risk of your financial information blowing out of your trash can or the garbage truck and onto the street.
To stop this type of theft, shred everything that has your information on it before throwing it away.
If you see a small charge on your credit card or bank statement, you may assume it’s a small purchase you forgot about. That’s exactly what identity thieves are hoping for. When they steal your information, they often make a small charge to see if it’s valid. If that charge goes through, their next step is wiping out your accounts.
When you see a charge you’re not sure about, call your bank immediately. They often have more information than you can see on your online statement and can tell you things like if a charge from another state was made in person or is just how one of your local stores runs its transactions through the main office. If needed, you can then dispute the charge and shut down that account.
Changes to Your Credit Score
Most banks now offer free credit scores, so take advantage of the service. It’s normal for your score to shift up and down a few points every month but look into any big changes. An identity thief may have opened a credit card in your name and then not paid the bill causing your credit score to drop for a late payment. Of course, you should still periodically review your full credit report to make sure there aren’t any accounts on it that aren’t yours.
Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Even if you catch identity theft early, you may still have to spend time and money trying to fix the damage and monitoring your credit more closely. Identity theft insurance helps to provide the services you need and cover the costs.
Mayville Insurance offers identity theft insurance along with a wide range of other insurance.