Identity theft can wreak havoc on your personal and financial life, so it's important to spot identity theft warning signs before the crime gets out of hand.
Monitoring your credit report can help you detect identity theft. The next time you go through your credit report, keep an eye out for these four warning signs:
1. Your personal information is wrong.
If incorrect names, or addresses where you've never lived, show up on your credit report, don't write it off as a clerical error. Incorrect personal information could be a sign of identity theft and that an identity thief has added a new name, address or other personal information to your file after opening new lines of credit in your name. Incorrect personal information can sometimes appear on your credit report even before the new, fraudulent accounts are posted.
2. There is a line of credit that you did not open or that looks unfamiliar.
If a credit card you have not opened is listed on your credit report, your identity may have been stolen and used to open new lines of credit.
3. An unfamiliar account, or an account you recognize but did not think was overdue, is delinquent or in collections.
Unrecognizable collections on your account may be a sign you've fallen victim to identity theft. You might notice an unfamiliar account or signs that one of your legitimate lines of credit has been hijacked. An identity thief can open an account in your name, rack up charges and let unpaid bills pile up, sending your account into collections. If an identity thief fraudulently opens utility or phone accounts in your name, these could also end up in collections.
4. There are hard inquiries for loans or credit applications that you did not initiate.
A hard inquiry appears on your credit report if a potential creditor checks your credit history before giving you a loan or extending a new line of credit. Since you initiate each hard inquiry—when applying for a new credit card, or shopping for a car loan or mortgage, for example—you should be familiar with each one that appears on your credit report. If an unfamiliar hard inquiry pops up, someone may be using your identity to borrow money in your name.
I’ve spotted something weird in my credit report. What now?
There are a few things you can—and should—do.
- To dispute any errors on your credit report, contact Equifax.
- Contact the companies associated with the accounts to have the accounts closed. Consider placing a fraud alert on your file which will make it difficult for fraudsters to open new credit in your name.
- File a police report with your local police or RCMP and an identity theft complaint with Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
By carefully inspecting your credit report on a routine basis, you may be able to catch identity theft when it starts, helping to alleviate any long-term damage.Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax Canada Co. used here under license. The preceding is for informational purposes only and may not prevent fraud and or identity theft from occurring.