Thousands of Hoosiers become victims of identity theft each year and most didn’t even know they were at risk. Staying alert and being able to spot the signs of identity theft can help you thwart identity thieves. Monitoring your financial statements regularly and checking your credit report at least once a year can help you detect errors, accounts you never opened, and/or bills sent to the wrong address - all signs that someone else is using, and ruining, your name and credit.
Consumers are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting companies under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 1994.
Do not contact the three consumer reporting companies individually. They will provide all three free annual credit reports only through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
You may also call 877.322.8228 to request your report or mail a written request to:
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You should regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements along with your credit report. The earlier you recognize suspicious activity in these areas the better. Identity thieves can act quickly so you have to be vigilant to stop them. Red flags include:
Incorrect personal information on your credit report such as a social security number, address, name, initials, or employers. Also watch for new accounts being opened in your name that you did not authorize.
If you are missing bills be sure to contact your creditor to make sure no change of address has been applied to your account. Often identity thieves will change your billing address to make their illicit activities look more legitimate.
- Any unexplained debits to your accounts.
- Receiving credit cards that you did not apply for.
- If you are denied credit, or only offered high interest rates on credit lines for reasons unknown to you.
- Calls from debt collectors about purchases you did not make.
There are several commercial services that will monitor your credit reports for activity and alert you to changes to your accounts for a fee. Many such services only monitor one of the three major consumer reporting agencies. If you're considering signing up for a service, make sure you understand what you're getting before you purchase the service. You could also check out the company with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) and check the consumer protection lawsuit database to see if any enforcement actions have been filed against the company.
You receive a bill from collection agencies or debt collectors begin contacting you about overdue debts you never incurred.
You apply for a mortgage, car, or student loan and learn that problems with your credit history are hindering your chances of obtaining the loan when you are certain the damage is not a reflection of your personal financial activity.
You receive something in the mail about an apartment you never rented, a house you never bought, or a job you never held.
Unfortunately, many consumers don’t learn their identity has been stolen until it’s too late. It is critical that you act immediately if you suspect that your identity has been compromised. Victims should take immediate action to work through the steps to recovery (insert link to the ‘Restore’ page).