How to Know if Your Identity Has Been Stolen

People fail to notice the warning signs of identity theft for a variety of reasons. Perhaps identity theft feels like a vague threat, one that they won’t fall prey to. Or maybe it seems overwhelming to learn how to detect the signs of identity theft. The reality is that identity theft affects millions of Americans every year, and learning the signs and regularly checking for them doesn’t require hours and hours of time. Discover some of the biggest identity theft warning signs below and start to develop a practice to screen for them. Of course, the surest way to protect yourself is to prevent theft from ever occurring—learn more with our identity theft prevention tips .

How to Know If Your Identity Has Been Stolen
Watch for these red flags:

Personal Banking

  • You receive a call, email, or letter from your bank notifying you of possible fraud on your account.
  • You see withdrawals you can’t explain on your bank statement, or charges you didn’t make on your credit card statement.
  • Your interest rate goes up due to unknown credit activity.
  • Your credit report shows accounts you didn’t open, or credit checks by companies you haven’t done business with.
  • You’re denied credit or a rental application, even though you know you have a strong credit record.

Mail and Telephone

  • Bills or other pieces of mail never come (and you didn’t sign up to “go paperless”).
  • You receive a bill for services you didn’t use.
  • You get a credit card you didn’t open, or a letter related to an account you never established.
  • Debtors call you about bills you’ve never heard of before.

Taxes and Social Security

  • The IRS informs you that more than one tax return was filed under your name, or that a dependent’s Social Security number was already claimed.
  • You receive tax documents from an employer you never worked for.
  • Your Social Security statement shows errors. For example, your reported earnings appear inflated.

Health Insurance

  • Your health plan rejects a medical claim with the explanation that you’ve already reached your limit.
  • You can’t get coverage under a new plan because your medical record lists a condition you don’t have.
  • You regularly receive treatment solicitations for health conditions you don’t have.


  • A merchant refuses your check.
  • An employer denies you a job based on a bad background check, even though you know your record is clean.
  • A company that you have an account with (or regularly do business with) notifies you that it’s experienced a data breach. Alternatively, you hear such a thing in the news.

Early detection can help minimize the damage and simplify the recovery process of identity theft, saving you unnecessary stress and lost time. Of course, even the most vigilant consumers can miss signs of identity theft. As an added protection, consider identity theft insurance and monitoring services . If you suspect you may be a victim, contact your bank, health insurance provider, or relevant government agency, then begin to tackle recovery steps  one by one.

Disclaimer: The information posted to this site was accurate at the time it was initially published. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. The information contained in is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consult your own attorney or financial adviser regarding your particular situation.

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