As I have witnessed throughout the many years I have worked with victims, each type of identity theft can have a devastating impact. Victims with whom I have worked are taxpaying citizens who do the right thing and work hard to earn honest livings. When their personal information was compromised, thieves opened up financial accounts in their victims’ names, and when these new accounts were opened, it affected the victims’ ability to rent an apartment, buy a car or buy a home. When your good name is stolen and stained, you are thrown into a position where you are responsible for fixing it. This means you are delayed in getting the car, home or apartment you need. For those seeking employment, it also means you could lose the opportunity to get a job, because some employers check credit scores to learn more about prospective hires.
Here are 10 signs that your identity may have been compromised.
- You are denied credit for no reason. People often discover that their identity has been stolen when they are denied credit. So when you apply for a loan to purchase a car or a home, and you are denied credit, you may discover that it is a result of your credit being damaged by fraud. Accounts may have been opened without your authorization, and the resulting bills would never have been paid.
- You are denied employment as a result of a background check. Some people learn that their identity has been stolen when they are denied employment. An employer may check an applicant’s credit history to determine whether he or she is financially responsible. If the applicant’s identity has been stolen, assuming the thief hasn’t been surreptitiously paying the bills, the employer rejects the applicant based on a credit history tainted by fraud.
- You are denied admission to school. Schools may also deny admission after checking a prospective student’s credit history, or the student may be unable to secure a college loan because an identity thief has opened accounts in the student’s name. Parents may also discover their identities have been stolen when they apply for loans to pay for their children’s tuition and are denied.
- A collection agency calls you for non-payment. Debt collectors may even call identity theft victims, demanding payment for goods or services that the victims never purchased or received.
- Arrests and false convictions. In a worst-case scenario, a victim is arrested for a crime he or she did not commit. The identity thief may have a fake ID with the victim’s information; once the thief is arrested and bail is posted, the thief walks while the victim is pursued.
- Wrong information on a credit report. When thieves open new accounts under the victim’s name, it is inevitable that the fraudulent accounts will show on the victim’s credit report.
- Mail stops arriving, or certain bills or statements don’t arrive. Identity thieves will steal victims’ mail—and in some cases change their mailing address via the Post Office to the fraudulent address of the identity thieves.
- You receive bills from companies you’ve never done business with. When an identity thief poses as you, he may buy products that are invoiced—and you receive the bill. In other situations, the thief might bounce a check or max out a credit card that was opened in your name.
- You are denied a tax refund. When an identity thief files taxes under your name before you do, he or she gets your refund. File early and protect your data year ‘round.
10. Psychological trauma. You end up in the loony bin because you have no idea how your life has spiraled out of control. Victims of identity theft often have no idea what is happening to them. At times they think they are going crazy and develop a sense of paranoia because they are the puppets and the thief is the puppeteer, all without them knowing it.