BBB Tip: Identity Theft

  
     
Be vigilant checking your bank accounts and credit reports for unexplained activity and inquiries. Unexpected withdrawals, charges, and accounts could be the result of identity theft.

identiy theft concept hooded faceless personScams are designed to either steal your money now, or steal your identity now in order to steal your money later. Scammers have all kinds of techniques to collect personally identifiable information (PII). Once they have it, they can effectively become you, using your identity to open accounts, file taxes, or obtain medical coverage.  

How the Scam Works:

With enough information about you, a scammer can take over your identity and commit a wide range of crimes. Scammers can make false applications for loans and credit cards, withdraw money from your bank account, or obtain services that the scammer would otherwise be denied.

Identity theft may take a long time to detect. Scammers typically ensure that bills and statements for new accounts are not sent to your address. You may not notice what is happening until the scammer has already inflicted substantial damage on your assets, credit, and reputation.

If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is very important to act quickly.      In the U.S., visit www.identitytheft.gov for information on how to stop and recover from identity theft. In Canada, the Anti-Fraud Centre has information on identity theft. 

Tips to Spot This Scam: 

  • Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, and accounts. When reviewing your bank account, credit card statements, or credit reports, you notice unfamiliar charges, accounts or withdrawals. You may stop receiving certain bills because scammers have changed the address associated with your bank account or credit card. Debt collectors may call you about debts that aren’t yours. 
  • Check your credit reports regularly for unauthorized inquiries and accounts. In the U.S., you have the right to check your credit report with each of the three credit bureaus once per year at www.annualcreditreport.com.      Space these checks out across the year, and you will know fairly quickly if something is awry. In Canada, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada provides information on requesting a free credit report.
     

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.

To learn how to protect yourself, go to “10 Steps to Avoid Scams”.

Last Reviewed: March 7, 2017