Identity theft victims often do not realise that they have fallen foul of this crime until quite some time after it has occurred.
This is largely to do with the delays between credit being given to the fraudster and statements being sent to the victim.
In some case, the identity thief may have even re-directed their victim’s mail in order to cause even longer delays, thus giving themselves more time to use credit cards, etc.
The singular most effective way of determining whether or not you have become a victim of identity theft is to request a credit report.
A credit report may not be able to prevent fraud, however, it can quickly identify if any such crime has taken place. Here in the UK, you can send £2 to Experian in return for a printed credit report.
In the US, you are permitted one free report per year from each of the credit reference agencies.
These credit reports give a detailed analysis of your financial commitments and payment history, including to whom you owe money, how much credit you have, how long you have had the finance and how long a period the money or other agreement is to last, etc.
The credit report will also provide information such as defaults which would be a strong indicator if there is some credit not being repaid that you were unaware of.
In addition, a credit report will also record searches. This highlights the occasions where a company has assessed your credit rating prior to making a lending decision.
If your credit report shows debts or other entries you were completely unaware of then it is most likely that some sort of fraudulent activity is occurring, with identity theft being the most likely cause.
Good advice would be to check your credit report annually at the very least, more often if you have any reason to suspect that you may be at risk of identity theft.
Other red flags would be that you receive mail for purchases that you haven’t made.
Alternatively, a lack of mail could suggest that someone has hijacked your post and had it redirected.
Problems with gaining approval for credit, where none existed before, is also another tell tale sign that your identity may have been stolen.