Identity theft cases are more prevalent today than ever before, and the problem is likely to get worse as hackers continue to improve their ways of breaking and entering. In the last decade, it is estimated that around one billion records have been breached. According to a report from the U.S. Justice Department, nearly 16.6 million people fell victim in 2012, with the most common misused information being bank accounts and credit card details.
Considering the enormous number of data breaches that happen every day, it is important to take your security into your hands. Here are signs of identity theft to watch out for:
If you keep track of your spending and notice that your credit card balance seems off, it could mean that someone is using your information to charge expenses to your card. Keep an eye on your credit card statement and look for things you did not purchase.
Be sure to let your bank know immediately if you don’t recognize some items and report your credit card as stolen. Frequently changing your passwords and checking your statement is usually all you have to do to stay safe.
Someone may be using your personal information to sign up for paid memberships and other expenses. If you are receiving bills for debts you don’t owe, better start investigating.
If you suddenly stop receiving your monthly credit card statement, a thief may have already filed for a change of address. After all, he or she wouldn’t want you to spot the dirty work for as long as possible. It doesn’t hurt to follow up on something that is out of the ordinary.
Equipped with the right information, a thief can open a credit card account in your name. Failure to recognize this sign allows them to go on a shopping spree for as much as they want.
Theresa Payton, author of “Privacy in the Age of Big Data,” recommends having a unique email address for your financial accounts. Email addresses used on social media sites and department stores can easily be stolen and used for fraud. You should also carefully check your bank statements for anything that doesn’t belong and get your hands on your detailed credit report every once in a while.
No one wants to be a victim of identity fraud, but oftentimes people fail to see the signs of identity theft and face more damage when it’s too late.