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Identity theft: How to check for it and how it can happen

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    Identity theft can happen anytime and may catch you by surprise. Luckily, there are ways to check for it and help protect yourself. You may need to start by simply paying more attention to your account records. Tools like identity monitoring as well as credit and fraud alerts can help you protect yourself, too. Let’s explore how to check for identity theft and what you can do if it happens to you.

    How does identity theft happen?

    There were 5.9 million reports of identity theft in 2021.But how does identity theft happen? While there are many ways someone can steal your identity, the methods can be split into two broad categories: imposter scams and identity theft.

    Imposter scams happen when someone plays the role of another person to commit fraud. This can come in a few types:

    • Government: scams may happen when someone approaches you claiming to be a government agent, or you get an email or postal letter claiming to be from a government bureau. These may be attempts to collect funds or identifying information.
    • Romances: cams may happen on dating apps and websites when a perpetrator is more interested in your wallet than your heart. In 2021 alone, the FBI got more than 1,800 reports of online romance scams that tallied to about $133 million lost.
    • Business opportunity scams may happen when you get a business proposition in a random email or even from an acquaintance or friend. If the terms seem too good to be true, it is possible that this could be a scam.
    • Sweepstakes and prizes scams may happen when you get notifications about winning a prize or sweepstakes you never entered.

    Identity theft is the fraudulent acquiring and use of your personal identifying information, often for financial gain. These cases are different from imposter scams because the fraudsters pretend to be you, rather than someone else, without your knowledge. There are a few ways your identity can be stolen and used.

    • Account takeover: In this scenario, another person has gained access to your bank or credit accounts to steal funds or sensitive data and files.
    • Phishing: Fake business emails or texts can often look a lot like the real deal. That’s why when you get an email purporting to be about any of your accounts, you may want to check the source through your institution’s website directly rather than clicking links in the message.
    • Online shopping: If you receive receipts or notifications for unfamiliar online purchases, you may be experiencing identity theft. That could mean someone has access to your credit account number and security details.
    • Medical: Strange medical bills in the mail can be a sign that someone has used your identity to cover their medical visits and even other related expenses.

    How to check for identity theft

    As you can tell from the above examples, staying aware of your bank and credit accounts could play a crucial role in checking for identity theft. But tools like credit and identity monitoring can also help. With Chase Credit Journey®, not only can you check your credit score for free, you can also receive customized alerts to flag changes and unusual activity on your credit and bank account.

    Protecting your identity

    Whether you’re checking your credit score or recovering from identity theft, Chase Credit Journey offers a set of tools that may help you.

    • Dark web surveillance can notify you that your identifying information may appear on suspicious web pages.
    • Data breach monitoring is designed to let you know if a data breach includes your personal data.
    • Social Security number tracking could keep you aware of activity linked to your SSN.
    • Identity verification alerts can update you if a creditor or lender verifies your identity for a credit check.
    • ID theft insurance can help cover the costs you incur throughout your recovery, such as postage for certified mailings.

    In summary

    If you have concerns about or simply wonder how to check for identity theft, Chase Credit Journey® has resources to help. You can start with a free credit score check and then explore your identity theft monitoring options. And if it’s beyond the point of prevention and your identity has already been stolen, Chase Credit Journey® can help you progress toward recovery and make your identity entirely yours, once again.

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