Thursday, April 10, 2014

Be on the lookout for identity theft red flags

It’s an unfortunate reality of our times that no one is immune to identity theft. Identity theft, a crime in which an impostor obtains key pieces of personal information and uses them for their own personal gain, is becoming one of the fastest growing crimes in North America.
It can start with lost or stolen wallets, stolen mail, a data breach, computer virus, “phishing” scams or discarded paper documents. Once you become a victim of identity theft, it can be a long and difficult process to restore your credit, address fraudulent debts and clear your name.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to minimize the damage if you become a victim of identity theft.
The Identity Theft Resource Center, a non-profit organization that aims to educate consumers, corporations and government on the dangers of identity theft, recently published a list of common identity theft red flags. By keeping a watchful eye for these red flags, you can recognize identity theft early on and reduce the impact it might have on your finances.
Here are some things to watch for:
  • ·        Statements from unknown credit card accounts
  • ·        Errors or misinformation on your credit report
  • ·        Denials when applying for loans
  • ·        Denials on utility or rental applications
  • ·        Collection notices for unknown accounts or loans
  • ·        Bills for goods or services you didn’t purchase
  • ·        Increases in your rate of interest on credit cards (due to unknown credit activity)
  • ·        Missing mail
  • ·        Regular communication (bills, emails, statements) from your financial institution ceases
If you notice any of these red flags and discover you are a victim of identity theft, immediately contact the police, then freeze any fraudulent accounts or credit cards and request a credit check.

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