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:
Unusual purchases on your credit cards
Being denied a loan you qualify for
Being offered less favorable credit terms, like a high interest rate, for no apparent reason
Bank statements that don't agree with personal records
Unexplained changes in your bank access codes
Missing credit card bills or other mail
Unusual calls regarding your personal or financial information
Unexplained charges on phone or other consumer accounts
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. Go to Annual Credit Report for more information. This central site allows you to request a free Annual Credit Report.com, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
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