Detecting Identity Theft

If someone stole your wallet, or you have previously been the victim of identity theft, you will naturally be on the lookout for signs of identity theft. However, even if you don’t suspect identity theft, you may want to keep an eye out for it.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the average amount of time between the time the identity theft occurs and is noticed by the consumer is 14 months. And the quicker you can catch the problem, the better.

The first line of defense is awareness. Look out for:

  1. Unusual purchases on your credit cards
  2. Being denied a loan you qualify for
  3. Being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason
  4. Bank statements that don't agree with personal records
  5. Unexplained changes in your bank access codes
  6. Missing credit card bills or other mail
  7. Unusual calls regarding your personal or financial information
  8. Unexplained charges on phone or other consumer accounts
  9. Receiving credit cards that you didn’t apply for.

If you have a family member who was recently deceased, be aware that thieves may use that person’s identity. Visit The Identity Theft Resource Center for help in dealing with this situation.

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report per year. Contact one of the three major credit bureaus for yours:

  • Equifax, 1-800 525-6285
  • Experian (formerly TRW), 1-800-301-7195
  • Trans Union 1-800-680-7289.

Updated: 5/2009