After months of searching, you've finally found it: the elusive perfect apartment, and it's yours pending a routine credit check. You're practically planning your housewarming party when the landlord calls you to tell you your application has been rejected. You're crushed, but more importantly you're worried and upset. Could you be the victim of identity theft?
Every year, millions of lives are financially hijacked by a stolen identity. Here are 9 warning signs that it might be happening to you:
Your rental or loan application gets rejected.
If your rental, loan, or credit card application gets rejected and you have historically good credit, it could be an indication that someone is using your identity and wrecking your credit score. Similarly, if you lose out on a job opportunity at the very last minute, it might be a good time to check things out.
You health insurance company denies your claim.
Nobody likes being sick. But imagine having your legitimate health claim denied by your health insurance company because they say you've reached your health plan limit. Many identity thieves will use their victims' health plans to collect money or narcotic prescriptions for a chronic illness they don't even have.
Bills you don't recognize start piling up.
If you're getting mail from businesses or banks that you don't do business with, it's time to play detective. In addition to using your identity, thieves may even use your address, footing you with both the burden––and the actual bill.
Mail goes missing from your mailbox.
The only thing worse than finding a bill in your mailbox is not finding it. When your mail starts going missing in transit, you have the right to be concerned. As often as identity thieves use your address to deflect payment for their thrills, they'll use your mail as a means to collect your private information, rendering you an easy target.
You start getting bombarded by phone calls from collection agencies.
This is a clear indicator. If collection agencies come a-calling, there are dues that have been in your name for a while. Swift action is essential: report errors on your credit score and file a report with the FTC.
Your bank account shows withdrawals you can't remember.
Nobody's judging you. We've all looked at our bank statement and thought, "when did I do that?" But if you've noticed several withdrawals that you're pretty sure weren't you, it's probably time to contact your bank. And don't just look for outrageous deficits; thieves are smart, adaptive, and just as likely to take small amounts at a time in hopes that you won't notice.
Strange charges appear on your bank statement.
Fraudulent charges are perhaps the most familiar form of theft. But there's a big difference between having your atm card stolen and having someone hijack your identity. If you start noticing charges that you don't recognize on your bank statement, cancel your card, but stay vigilant…don't assume it's a one-off thing.
The IRS claims you've already filed your taxes.
Identity theft can look like a lot of different things, but a fairly common materialization is when someone uses your social security number to file income taxes, clearing the way for them to claim your hard-earned, much-anticipated tax return.
A company you do business with has a data breach.
Unless you live under an exceptionally comfortable rock, you've probably heard about the Equifax data breach, which left the private information of millions of users vulnerable in 2017. At the time it seemed like a really big deal, but in reality it wasn't exactly an isolated incident. In fact, the vast majority of information breaches come from corporate databases. So if a company or bank you do business with has a breach, take action and set up some additional security measures.