It seems that ID theft is all over the news lately. In fact, it seems as though you can’t go a week without hearing about another data breach, or some instance of identity fraud. The unfortunate reality is that, at some point, you are likely to have your data stolen, or someone pretend to be you.
The key is to be prepared to catch ID theft quickly so that you can move to limit the damage. Here are 3 ways that you can catch identity theft as quickly as possible:
- Check In With Your Accounts Online
Keeping on top of your finances is one of the best ways to catch ID theft before it becomes a serious problem. You don’t have to constantly look at your accounts online, but checking once or twice a week can help you catch red flags. If you see a charge that looks out of place, you can quickly contact your bank and verify it.
I have one day a week where I check my accounts, doing a cursory check, and making sure that everything is up to date. That way, I am in tune with what’s going on, and I can catch ID theft early on. This came in handy a few weeks ago when someone tried to charge a hotel stay in Vermont to my (stolen) credit card number.
- Reconcile Your Bank Statements
The art of account reconciliation has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Just because you have a personal finance app doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t reconcile your accounts. You might miss a charge or two if you are just looking over your accounts briefly a few times a month. However, if you have to dig into your accounts by reconciling your statements, you will be more likely to catch errant charges. Take the opportunity to compare your records with what the bank has, and make sure everything is as it should be.
- Check Your Credit Report
Your bank accounts aren’t going to show fraudulent loan accounts opened using your stolen identity. As a result, it makes sense to check your credit report. You can get a free report from each credit bureau once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also sign up for a consumer credit site like Quizzle to keep tabs on what’s happening. This type of site can let you see when new accounts are opened up, or if there is some other strange credit occurrence. This red flag can prompt you to dive deeper into your credit report to see if there is a problem.
Once you start paying better attention, you are more likely to catch problems with your credit. The earlier you catch ID theft, the faster you can take action to reduce the problems arising from the theft, and the sooner you can get your finances back on track.