The sooner you start a fraud investigation after having been victimized, the lower your losses usually are. This is why catching the signs of fraud early is so important. The longer you let the fraudster go unchecked, the more time they have to do further damage. In mere minutes, a fraudster can clean out your entire bank account given enough of your personal data.
So how do you know that you need to start a fraud investigation? Try the warning signs we have compiled below, which are among the most common indications of fraudulent activity.
- Unexplained charges on your credit card – If you review your credit card statement regularly, you are more likely to catch credit card fraud than others, as you will probably spot unexplained charges earlier and instigate a fraud investigation as a response. After all, no one wants to shell out several hundred dollars for an item they never bought or even saw, so if that item pops up, start a fraud investigation. This is why you why you should be going over your credit card statements and checking every entry and figure. You can even compare it to your receipts (if you collect these, which you should) for extra security.
- Untraceable documents – This covers a lot of things, including your credit cards and bank statements. If you cannot find these or identity papers or even your regular mail, be warned: you could very likely be getting victimized already by an identity thief nearby. It is exceedingly common for such criminals to intercept their targets’ incoming mail in hopes of finding more exploitable data, so do not take the disappearance of your snail mail for granted. It might teach you not to celebrate the next time your credit card bill fails to make it to your kitchen table.
- New credit accounts you cannot remember opening – This is one of the most popular activities for fraudsters, so look out for it in a fraud investigation: they grab your personal data, then use it to create a new credit account in your name. That is why fraud victims often get a nasty surprise in their credit statements.
- Loan refusals – This tends to stem naturally from Sign #3. The more credit accounts and reckless purchases the identity thief holding your data makes, the worse it gets for your credit score. Over time, this accumulates and the result is a credit rating that looks like someone who does not care about it owns it. This is why checking your credit score regularly is just good sense.
- Odd inquiries on your credit score – If you check your credit report, you shall find that merchant/vendor inquiries are reported on it. If you are seeing a lot of them coming from businesses that you know you have never approached or would not normally use, you know that something is wrong. It may be time to instigate a fraud investigation.