The U.S. Federal Trade Commission estimates that 9 million Americans' identities are stolen each year. For many, this means money is stolen from their accounts. Another consequence can be a drop in credit scores or inability to get loans. With the following steps, you can tell if your identity has been stolen.
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Monitor your bank statement each month. Carefully go over all items to make sure there are no unauthorised charges or withdrawals from your account, which may indicate identity theft. But don't jump to conclusions. Always speak to the other account holder if you share an account. Verify all charges or withdrawals with that person. Take your time to go over each line.
Read each credit card statement every month. Look for suspicious charges. Speak to any other account holders. Any unauthorised charges may be a sign of identity theft.
Obtain copies of all three credit reports. You can get a free copy each year by going to the Annual Credit Report site. Check any suspicious activity, such as new accounts being opened that you did not authorise. Also check the inquiries section to see if anyone has applied for credit in your name.
Join a credit monitoring service. This will continually monitor your credit and alert you to any suspicious activity. The fees vary for this type of service, so call around. Check the Better Business Bureau to find information on the company. Always research the company thoroughly to determine if any complaints have been filed.
Go to the My ID score site. The site is completely free and designed by ID Analytics. The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends this site. A score is assigned based on certain factors. According to Larry McIntosh, chief marketing director at ID Analytics, "The company's software queries hundreds of data points on each consumer to algorithmically spot anomalies that may indicate ID theft, such as recent applications for new credit that include only fragments of a person's identity." A high score may be an indicator of identity theft. While this method is not foolproof, it does tip you off to a possible chance of identity theft.
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