By definition, “identity theft” occurs when someone steals your identity whereas “identity fraud” occurs when that person uses your identity to commit fraud or deceive someone. There are many ways in which identity theft can occur such as by phishing, by use of malware and by other tactics such as simply stealing credit cards, your personal documents or secretly sneaking over your information. By whatever means, once this information falls into the notorious hands of the fraudster, he is now well equipped to commit the crime.
What kind of crimes can be committed once thieves get hold of your personal information?
Your Personal information can be used to open a new bank account, apply for an IT return, apply for a credit card or a loan. Your credit card can be used to make unauthorized purchases. These crimes can affect your credit scores too. Here are 4 giveaways to indicate that someone has stolen your information.
1. Your Account Statement Looks Suspicious or Your Checks Bounce:
When checking your account statement, even a small discrepancy should raise an alarm. You may have become a victim of financial identity fraud. Check for unknown withdrawals, deductions or payments.
● Be aware of your spendings, subscriptions, and purchases. Make an excel sheet in your drive online which can be accessed from anywhere using the internet. Note down your monthly, quarterly, annual subscriptions and auto deductions with their amount. By doing this, you will be aware of your spendings and easily recognize any unknown charges.
● Keep a regular check on your accounts for any suspicious or unfamiliar activity and immediately contact your bank in case you smell a fraud.
● Get your bank KYC done by completing PAN verification and other identity verification procedures so that you fortify your identity.
● If you suspect unapproved access to your bank account, it’s better to close that account and open a new one with a new account number.
P.S. When you change to a new account, remember to update any automatic payments with your new account information.
2. You Detect Some Dubious Activity from Your Credit Card or Your Credit Report Doesn’t look Right:
Another sign that you may be a victim of financial ID theft is suspicious activity on your credit card statement. You may see a small but unknown amount deduction on your credit card statement. This could be a ‘check trap’ by the fraudster to see whether you are vigilant enough to file a fraudulent charge. If you don’t ignore it, the fraudster will go ahead with a bigger withdrawal.
● If you notice fraudulent purchases using your credit card, contact the merchant and card issuer to alert them of the fraud and ask the card issuer to immediately block the account.
● Contact any of the four major credit information companies such as CRIF High Mark to place a fraud alert or a credit freeze on your credit report, which prevents identity thieves to open accounts in your name.
● The credit reporting agency you contact, ideally informs about the fraud to the other agencies. Always keep an eye on your credit score and credit reports for signs of any unauthorized activity.
3. Debt Collectors Start Calling You Out of the Blue:
If you receive even a single call from creditors asking you to pay the unpaid bills that you don’t even recognize, it is possible that someone has stolen your personal information and is now buying credit under your name. Check your credit report for unfamiliar accounts.
● If you are a victim, you’ll need to contact the merchant or service provider where the fraudulent account was opened and close that account immediately.
● Inform the credit agencies about the fraud so that it does not affect your credit score.
4. You’re Unable to File Taxes
Identity thieves may file taxes using your personal details to route your tax refunds into their accounts. This would inhibit your ability to pay taxes.
● Contact the local police and the federal trade commission.