Discovering that your identity has been stolen can be a scary experience. Whether it’s through phishing attacks, data breaches, or physical theft, there are many avenues fraudsters take to get ahold of your information and use it to their benefit. Here are some warning signs that your identity may have been compromised, and what steps you can take to mitigate the damage.
1. Tax Return Inconsistencies
If you notice inconsistencies with your return, this could be a sign that your identity has been stolen. These are signs that someone may be using your identity to commit tax fraud (a form of identity theft):
- Your return is significantly smaller or larger than you anticipated
- You received a notification from a tax preparation company stating that your tax return has been processed, but you have yet to file your taxes
- You received unexpected W-2s from businesses where you never worked
2. Unexpected or Missing Mail
Many fraudsters will use someone’s personal information to sign up for credit cards or to apply for a loan. If you start receiving credit card statements or information about a loan balance that you never applied for, then a fraudster may be using your information illegally.
On the flip side, another sign that your information could be in the wrong hands is if your mail suddenly goes missing. If you are expecting account statements from your bank, a W-2 from your place of employment, or medical bills, but they are taking longer than expected, then you may want to investigate a little further. Call the company to ask them if a statement was mailed and if so, when it was sent.
3. Your Credit Report Doesn’t Seem Accurate
Many people don’t realize that their identity has been stolen until they apply for a credit card or loan, and discover that their credit score has changed dramatically. To avoid being surprised, it is recommended that you pull a credit report at least once a year. If anything seems off or suspicious, then you may be a victim of identity theft. Work with the credit agency to get things resolved.
4. Suspicious Activity on Your Bank Statement or Transaction History
Have you looked at your bank statement lately? A sign that fraudsters may have access to your personal information is if you start seeing transactions on your account that you never made. Frequently reviewing your online banking transactions and statements can help you act fast and mitigate any further loss.
What to do if your Identity Has Been Stolen
If you do find that your identity has been stolen, there are steps you can take to help minimize damage.
- Freeze Your Credit - A credit freeze limits access to your credit report so no one, including you, can open new line of credit accounts until the freeze is lifted. This is a good precaution to take, so that your credit score can remain intact.
- Report it – As soon as you discover that your identity has been stolen, the best thing you can do is report it. Identitytheft.gov will walk you through the steps to take to report the identity theft and start the recovery process.
We’re Here to Help You
Here at Blackhawk Bank, we know how stressful it can be to make sure your information is protected, and we want all our clients to be aware of how fraudsters operate. Are you ready to learn more about how Blackhawk Bank can help you? Contact us today!
VP Physical & Information Security