The prevalence of identity theft costs billions of dollars in annual financial losses, along with other types of losses. The growing trend of stealing another person’s identity demonstrates the need for people to learn how to check for identity theft.
Learn how to check for identity theft on an ongoing basis, rather than waiting until after you know that it actually occurred. When you know how to check for identity theft, you likely catch identity theft crimes earlier than individuals that never check for identity theft.
Discover how to help protect yourself from identity theft with identity theft protection services.
Run an Antivirus Scan
Viruses, malware, and spyware allow hackers or other dishonest individuals to invade the deep areas of your computer that stores information such as your personal information. If you conduct business online, make purchases online, or work online, there is a chance that your personal information becomes compromised if you have a virus on your computer.
Make sure that you have a strong, up to date antivirus program. Run a full virus scan. Look for signs of possible identity theft in the scan results. Do the scan results show viruses, malware, spyware, or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs)? Follow the instructions after completing the scan. If there are viruses or other issues, some programs require that you restart your computer to remove the virus or malware completely.
Running a virus scan helps check for identity theft because gaining access to your computer is a primary means of obtaining your personal information.
Check Your Credit Report
Checking your credit report is one of the primary ways of how to check for identity theft. Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, points out that reviewing your credit report serves as a ‘valuable check and balance' that confirms you authorized all activities listed on your credit report.
Review your credit report regularly to fight against suspicious activities, and minimize damage caused by identity theft. Obtain a free credit report from each credit bureau, Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union once each year. Check each item carefully, line-by-line on each report. The reason is that at first glance, items listed on the credit reports potentially seems the same or similar. There are likely differences, because some credit sources report only to one credit bureau, and not the others.
Check for telltale signs of identity theft, including addresses, and telephone numbers that you do not recognize. Check for liens, judgments, collection activities, credit cards, bank accounts, and bankruptcies. Report incorrect information to the credit bureau immediately.
Check Your Bank Records and Activity
Individuals committing identity theft often look for ways to gain access to bank accounts. Check every monthly bank statement carefully. Immediately report transactions or other activities that you did not authorize. A National Institute of Justice spokesperson explained that nearly one-third of identity theft victims realized that they were a victim after discovering money missing from an account.
If you do not receive your regular bank account statement, report this information immediately. People committing identity theft sometimes reroute statements to another address.
Check Your Credit Card Statements
When considering the possibility of experiencing identity theft, checking your credit card statements is a crucial step. If you have at least one credit card, there is a chance that you will experience identity theft.
Simply checking your monthly credit card statement is likely no longer sufficient when checking for identity theft. Sign up for an online account with the card company or business. Regularly check credit card transactions online, and immediately report any irregularities.
Do not assume that conducting credit card or account activities online protects you from identity theft. When you have spyware on your computer, the villain makes money off fooling you into revealing your personal information. Identity thieves gain access to credit accounts online by fooling credit account holders into clicking a link, falsely indicating that it is for account updates or verification. The link ends up being a fake site, where users unwittingly reveal their card information.
Always make sure that the credit account website starts with ‘https,’ rather than ‘http.’ This is an excellent way to check for identity theft.
Some people that do not have credit cards still fall victim to identity thieves who open credit cards in the victim’s name. When you check your credit report, look for credit card activity. If you see it, and you did not open a credit account, report it to the credit bureaus, and the credit card company.
Make Sure That You Can Log Into All of Your Important Online Accounts and Social Profiles
One identity theft sign occurs when the identity theft victim cannot log into important online accounts or social profiles. When you cannot log in to your important online accounts, and cannot access social profiles, this is a warning sign of account takeover identity theft.
Thieves gain access to accounts and profiles, then change passwords, and take over the account. The identity thieves impersonate the actual account user, and fraudulently obtain products and services.
Check with Your County Clerk’s Office
Check with your county clerk’s office and learn if you are an identity theft victim.
Individuals preparing documents for filing with the county clerk are not permitted to include social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information. Yet there have been several instances of hacking and dishonesty at county clerk’s offices where information was revealed, resulting in identity theft.
Make sure that you check your county clerk’s office for all real estate and other transactions listed in your name.
Use Identity Theft Protection Services for Identity Theft Monitoring and Protection
Using identity theft protection services save time. The service does all the identity theft checking, and monitoring for you.
Invest in identity theft protection services and let the professionals with expertise in protecting against identity theft do the work required for monitoring the web, public records, credit bureaus, and other sources where identity theft potentially occurs.
Use identity theft protection services to protect your accounts, credit, and finances from identity theft.