Identity Theft: 10 warning signs and 10 tips for prevention
Every two seconds, someone becomes a victim of identity theft.1 The holiday shopping season is a prime time for bad guys to take action. Unfortunately, the new year may be well underway before you realize you’re a victim — and by then, the thief could have inflicted thousands of dollars in damage. To help ensure you don’t pay this price, review our list of identity theft warning signs and our tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.
10 warning signs of identity theft
- Transactions you didn’t make appear on your bank, brokerage or credit card statements. Even small $1 or $2 charges can be the sign of a problem.
- You get statements for credit card or other accounts you never opened, or they appear on your credit report.
- You don’t receive routine bills you’ve been expecting.
- You’re unexpectedly denied for a loan, credit card, check use or healthcare coverage.
- You receive bills for medical services you didn’t need, are told you’ve mysteriously reached your benefits limit or your records suddenly show a condition you don’t have.
- You start getting debt collection calls, even though you regularly pay your bills.
- Your employer or former employer tells you someone is trying to collect unemployment benefits under your name.
- You receive a two-factor authentication notice you didn’t trigger.
- Your credit report contains obviously fraudulent information, such as an incorrect name, address, employer or Social Security number.
- You get notices from the IRS that your e-filed tax return was rejected or a second return was filed in your name.
If you’re worried you might be a victim, contact the company associated with the issue (such as a credit card provider). Then file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
10 ways to protect yourself from identity theft
- Keep your smartphone, computer, wallet and checkbook safe — more than 40% of identity thefts are tied to their loss.1
- Shop only on secure sites (look for “https” in the URL, or for a lock or unbroken key icon) — 43% of identity thefts occur when the victim is shopping online during the holidays.2
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi unless you can connect securely, such as over a virtual private network (VPN). When you’re done, disable the connection.
- Use strong passwords with a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Password-protect any device that connects to the internet or saves your personal information. Update often and always log out when you’re done.
- Keep your devices current on anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware software, and keep firewalls active.
- Only give personal information to trusted sources and always ask why it’s needed.
- If you don’t know the sender of an email, don’t open it. Even if you do, don’t click any links or download attachments.
- Use credit cards rather than debit cards for holiday shopping — they typically offer more fraud protection.
- Routinely review your financial accounts and use AnnualCreditReport.com to check your credit report. You can request one free from each credit bureau every 12 months.
- Consider signing up for fraud alerts and freezing your credit files.
At Commerce, we recognize that managing your identity is more important than ever. If you’re ever worried that your Commerce Bank accounts have been compromised, or if you’re curious about how we work to protect your financial information, visit your nearest branch or contact us today. Learn more about Commerce ID Monitor and Commerce ID Recover.
- What to do if your identity is stolen
- Watch out for these common holiday scams against senior citizens
1 “6 Holiday Shopping Rules to Prevent Identity Theft,” Grange Insurance, https://www.grangeinsurance.com/tips/6holidayshoppingrules, accessed Aug. 26, 2019
2 “43% of Holiday Shopping Identity Theft Occurs Online,” Matt Tatham, Experian.com, posted Nov. 19, 2018, https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/43-of-holiday-shopping-identity-theft-occurs-online/, accessed Aug. 26, 2019