Around 1 in 15 people become victims of identity fraud every year. Among them, Americans are the most likely to be victims because of our available resources. The reality is if you are an identity thief trying to find a quick score, using an American as your target is going to bring the best rewards.
When you are the victim of identity theft, your life is turned upside down. You go from having a regular job and enjoying life to having to deal with endless phone calls from people you suddenly owe money to and possibly being arrested because of a crime you never committed. The potential harm a successful identity theft can have on your future is extremely high.
The best way to ensure you get a fair trial or remedy these phone calls is by hiring a professional team of private investigators to uncover what happened, how it is not your responsibility, and how to move forward. In that spirit, we at Privin Network have assembled our ten signs that you may have been a victim of identity theft.
1 – Receiving Bank or Credit Card Statements
If you go to check your mailbox and end up with a bank statement from an institution you have no memory of using, you may have had your identity stolen. Someone could be using your address and ID to open accounts that funnel money from one place to another. Always call the institution first to verify you have an account and then reach out to our private investigators to do the rest. Do not volunteer personal information to the bank.
2 – Your Credit is Suddenly Bad
Most people never know they have been the victims of identity theft until it is too late. For example, they put in an application for a credit card or home loan only to find they are thousands of dollars in debt with multiple accounts they never opened. These are extreme cases but take a long time to repair, so you are not stuck with the actual bills.
3 – Debt Collectors Begin Calling You
We cannot emphasize this enough – DO NOT VOLUNTEER PRIVATE INFORMATION. If a debt collector wants to start bugging you, it is their job to verify who you are, not yours. If they will not listen to reason, hire our team to confirm you are actually responsible for the debt or whether or not someone else has bought a bunch of items in your name.
4 – Changes in Financial Communication
Paperless communication is an excellent thing for the environment, but it also means your address can get changed, and you will not know it until it is too late. If you rely upon bank statements sent to your mailbox, do not change that setting. This way, if they suddenly stop coming, you will know someone has modified your personal information with the institutions and may have stolen your identity.
5 – Your Credit Report Doesn’t Make Sense
You are entitled to a free credit report every once in a while. It is worth pulling because you want to stop any erroneous charges from becoming a problem. If you open your report and see credit cards or loans under your name you never authorized, you have most likely had your identity stolen.
6 – Random Charges on Your Cards
Keep an eye on significant expenses to retail stores. People who steal identities tend to use it once at a gas station to verify it is working, then go to the nearest Walmart or Target and buy hundreds to thousands of dollars in new products. Make sure you are not getting hit with these charges by periodically reviewing your statements.
7 – Your Bank Calls to Confirm a Purchase
Most banks and credit card companies have advanced detection systems in place to tell if you are spending outside of your regular habits. This can be frustrating if you take a trip and get your card declined because the company did not expect you to be across the nation or out of the country. But that also means they are actively watching for charges that do not fit your profile. IF you get a call asking to confirm a purchase you did not make, let them know right away that the charge is erroneous and probably identity theft.
8 – You Get a Call from a Job Application
Your social security number is just as valuable as your credit card. People who do not have good backgrounds or may not be from the area use your SSN to apply for jobs and government benefits. If you get a call or letter stating you recently applied for a job or something like public housing, call them back and let them know something is wrong. Then reach out to our team to help you navigate filing a police report and reclaiming your identity. You also need to immediately call the Social Security Administration’s fraud hotline at 800-269-0271.
9 – Unwanted Medical Bills
Healthcare in the United States is incredibly expensive, and some people will use your private information to fake their ID when getting surgery or medication. You need to let these hospitals or medical facilities seeking payment know that they have the wrong person and you were never a patient of theirs. Some of these facilities will turn you over to bill collectors even though you never made an appointment. Getting ahead of this process is your best bet to preventing a ding on your credit report.
10 – Your Tax Returns were Filed on Your Behalf
A large portion of the United States receives tax checks at the end of the year. That is why so many identity thieves seek out your tax information so they can make a false claim and then get your rebate sent to their address or bank account. Then you are left trying to explain this situation to the IRS. No one wants to be in that position.
What to Do Next
The first thing to do if you have been the victim of identity theft is to take a breath. Yes, this situation is challenging and will require hard work to overcome, but you have time and truth on your side. Leave the evidence portion of things to professionals like us.
Start by placing a freeze on your credit. Then, speak to the three major credit bureaus and freeze your account so no more activity can take place while you figure things out. Once you have done that, go to the FTC’s website at IdentityTheft.gov. There you will be able to report the theft and develop a plan of action for moving forward. They will provide you with all the steps necessary to get out of this situation.
Finally, speak with the police. Odds are you will need to file a police report to prove to bank and credit card companies that you are not responsible for the charges against your account. While some institutions have policies that prevent you from having to pay out in these cases, the police report shows you mean business and are willing to open a criminal case.
The best thing you can do is work with a team of private investigators like ours. Privin Network has conducted thousands of identity theft investigations over the years because it is such a dominant problem in the United States. We know how to organize and document everything you need to prove you are not liable for any of these charges or activities.
We will work with law enforcement by providing the information they need to move forward with any criminal cases. We offer specific services surrounding identity theft like insurance fraud, background checks, cybercrimes, and more. Our team will get you back on track with the information needed to avoid this situation in the future.