In 2017, approximately 16.7 million Americans suffered some degree of identity theft, whether that was having a bank account drained, having someone use a credit card number, or someone applying for a loan application without your knowledge or permission.
According to statistics, identity theft is quite common. Almost 7% of the population has had their identity stolen to some degree for someone else’s financial gain.
Here is a list of 20 types of identity theft.
The Nightmare of Identity Theft
If you have ever had to deal with any type of identity theft, you know it can be a nightmare. Many of us have had to spend days or weeks on the phone with credit card companies proving charges on our card were not ours, getting new identification, updating our bank accounts and much more. It is time consuming and frustrating, especially if you are aware of your consumer rights.
Even if your credit card number is stolen (and not the actual card), huge charges can be racked up on your account, and unless you report the unauthorized charges on a timely basis and establish that you didn’t make those purchases, you may be responsible for them.
The process to prove charges are not yours is stressful and infuriating because you are the victim and did nothing wrong in the first place. You didn’t buy those things, yet you have to use your time, energy, and resources to prove someone else has used your card. You may not even know your credit card number was stolen until you get your statement online or in the mail and the balance is much higher than you expected.
It’s even worse when someone hacks into your bank account and spends thousands of dollars. Thieves can take your money in a matter of minutes or seconds. You may not even know your entire account has been drained until the next day, and we all know what a headache it can be to reach a live person on a help line especially if it’s on the weekend or after regular business hours.
How To Know If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
There usually will be signs when your accounts have been hacked or if someone has used your name, birthdate, or social security number on a financial application. Here are some things that may indicate you’ve been a victim of identity theft:
- Unknown accounts show up on your credit report
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain
- Merchants refuse your checks
- You receive pre-approved offers at your address in someone else’s name
- Companies you’re not doing business with are looking at your credit report
- You receive bills for accounts you didn’t open
- Your credit report has a name or charges listed that you don’t recognize
- Debt collectors have started to contact you for debts that aren’t yours
Please keep in mind that if just one or two of these things have happened, it’s not a clear sign of identity theft, but it’s a sign you need to check your credit and examine your financial standing more carefully.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) entitles you to one free credit report each year from the three big credit reporting companies: Experian®, TransUnion®, and Equifax®, and if you have not already availed yourself of that right, you should. The information you find in your credit report will help you understand why your score is what it is and what, if anything, has been done in your name or social security number that you didn’t approve. The FCRA also provides a method for placing a fraud block on your credit report.
If you believe that you are a victim of identity theft, don’t just cross your fingers and hope the problem resolves itself. Identity theft can have devastating consequences on your personal financial situation. You have to address it head on.
If, after reviewing your credit report, you believe that you have been a victim of identity theft, you should consult with a consumer attorney who is familiar the process for correcting and restoring your credit information. Most consumer attorneys offer free initial consultations.