As there are no two cases of identity theft that are exactly alike, it's important to keep on the lookout for certain indicators that can signify some type of crime is being committed. While the crimes themselves are not the same, there are indicative factors that often occur when thieves are using your information in an inappropriate way, so remaining vigilant and monitoring your accounts and information for these things can help you from being a victim for an extended period of time.
Most people will always check their bank statements and credit card accounts first. These are typically a good place to look for signs of identity theft, as thieves often go for money before anything else, hitting victims where it hurts most - their livelihood. When scanning account history and transactions, it's important to make note of anything that seems out of the ordinary, especially if family or other loved ones cannot answer as to where the charges came from. When looking through information of this nature, it's important to not jump to conclusions right away, as some transactions may take days to post, family members could have used shared credit cards without informing everyone, or some type of auto-deduct could have occurred and slipped a person's mind.
Strange Phone Calls or Pieces of Mail
If you suddenly start receiving phone calls or mail stating that you signed up for things that you cannot remember doing, or alerting you that you've been approved, there's a chance that you've unknowingly become the victim of identity theft. These calls and forms may be a sign that someone has used your information to sign up for something - to make an application or order something without your knowledge, which can lead to further use of this same type. It's important to remember that while you don't have to respond to these calls or mailings, you should further investigate them in order to figure out where they're coming from and why. Never give out information over the phone unless you're the one to initiate the call, and/or you can validate the identity of the party on the other end of the line.
Alerts from Identity Monitoring Services
While somewhat dependent on information from the two categories above, this information is often the most useful when it comes to actually identifying an recognizing cases of identity theft. ID theft prevention relies on many factors, but keeping a close eye on results provided by services like these a well as using common sense can do wonders in keeping your information as it should be - private and secure. These services are designed to be accurate and thorough, reporting back to users about different types of activity within different accounts and information - some tell a good deal about financial status, others monitor for the use of a person's name or Social Security number. Either way, they are useful, and can be a huge asset when it comes to fighting against identity theft and the lasting repercussions.