Has My Identity Been Stolen?
Robert Siciliano (Identity Theft Expert and CEO) gives expert video advice on: What should I do if I notice clues that my identity has been stolen?; What kinds of identity theft clues should I look for on my credit report? and more...
What are clues that my identity has been stolen?
In the event that you are denied credit for no reason or you're denied emloyment or you are arrested for crimes you did not commit or a background check is done on you and information comes up erroneously, these are all signals that your identity has been compromised.
What should I do if I notice clues that my identity has been stolen?
The moment that red flag starts to pop up in your life that may be an indication that your identity has been compromised. The very first thing you need to do is check your credit to make sure that there aren't any accounts opened up under your name. If there are, then you have to start going through the process of restoring a compromised identity. Any of those red flags that you initially noticed, you need to address those particular accounts as well.
How can reviewing my credit report help me protect myself from identity theft?
In our society, our credit report is our financial health. For example, you go to the doctor, you get a physical, they take your blood, they do your white counts, your red counts and they check your cholesterol to make sure you're healthy. If there's any issues with the elevations of your counts, they're going to inform you of that so you can take necessary measures to correct it. It's the same thing reviewing with your credit report. If you review your credit report on an annual basis and things don't look right you will be able to respond to that as you need to become financially healthy. If the credit scores are low because accounts that you are unaware of have been opened, you need to respond to that. If there are fraudulent accounts opened up under your name without your knowledge, you need to shut those down. We are judged in our society based on our credit reports. Your insurance rates are based on credit reports in certain circumstances. Whether or not you can get a job is based on how responsible you are, as far as your credit report is concerned. So, if your identity has been comprimised, in some situations you can be denied employment. Your financial health is all based on your credit report, you need to pay close attention and should go online to annualcreditreport.com to get a free credit report at least quarterly. One different credit report from each credit bureau every four months, making sure that all of the information on it is correct, and disputing information that isn't correct.
What is "credit monitoring" and how can it help me protect myself from identity theft?
Credit monitoring services, right now, are some of the best tools that you and I have available to us right now to protect our identities. The first thing that an identity thief is going to do, when they are trying to open up accounts under your name, is usually credit cards. That is the most prevalent form of identity theft. When they fill out those credit card applications the issuing bank is going to check your credit to see if you are a good risk. If you actually have credit monitoring services, credit monitoring services check your credit report, for that type of activity, looking for checks into your credit. If you have credit monitoring, they will inform you that there is activity on your credit. Meaning that someone is checking your credit to open a new account under your name. Credit monitoring is a proactive way to find out what is going on regarding your credit. It allows you a window into your credit report 24 hours a da, to find out if there is activity if someone is trying to compromise your identity. I highly recommend credit monitoring in this day and age.
What kinds of identity theft clues should I look for on my credit report?
When you pull your credit report you need to become familiar with it. For most people they're kind of confusing and they don't make a lot of sense. First you need to verify all the different accounts on that credit report, making sure that they're accounts that you are familiar with, meaning accounts that you've opened at some point in your life. Some of them may be currently active and some of them may have been cancelled years and years ago, but are still on your credit report. That's fine. The red flags, the clues you're looking for, are unfamiliar accounts that are opened up under your name, either cancelled or active, that essentially are fraudulent accounts that affect you financially. Once you find those accounts, you need to dispute them. Call those companies themselves and get on the horn with them. Get on the phone with them and shut those accounts down before they become an even bigger problem for you.