Identity theft is when a person uses your personal information against you to discredit you or for their own gain. Because of the advent of innovative technology and malicious software, it is much easier to access a person’s name, birthdate, contact information, bank accounts or other pertinent data that uniquely identifies an individual. Someone can steal your identity to commit different types of theft.
The hard part is that our identity is intangible. It is data and information. You may not realize that an individual or criminal organization has stolen your identity until it is too late.
Warning signs that someone has stolen your identity
In Missouri, identity theft is a serious but relatively common criminal act. Under certain circumstances, an identity theft case can make its way to federal court. You must be aware of any indications of it happening to you. Here are warning signs you should watch out for:
- Unexplained financial transactions on your credit card
- Unrecognizable withdrawals from your debit card and ATM
- Your bills and statements stopped arriving because someone may have changed your address
- Banks and financial institutions have suddenly frozen your accounts
- New credit cards or loans that you did not apply for suddenly appear
- Unexplained charges on your bank statements
- Notifications of unrecognizable changes to your personal information and passwords
- Notifications from the Internal Revenue Service or IRS about errors on your tax return or Social Security statement
Do not wait for things to escalate. A fraudster may even use your identity and personal information to commit a crime, and suddenly there is a warrant for your arrest. Now that is a sign you should address right away.
What can I do if I suspect someone is stealing my identity?
You must act immediately and with caution. You should call any banks and financial institutions that you have accounts under and inform them of your situation. Check your accounts regularly and report any suspicious activity. If you can identify the identity thief, you might be able to recover everything they stole from you.