How to Spot the Warning Signs of Identity Theft: 10 Essential Tips

Protecting against fraud and scams is a major concern for many, with two out of five Filipinos saying it’s their top priority when opening new financial accounts. Worrying about the indicators of identity theft is real as scams become more common and sophisticated in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, in 2022, around 5 million Filipinos reported being victims of identity theft, which could lead to serious financial problems. Additionally, about 6.7 million Filipinos believe someone has used their identity to open a financial account without their permission.

Knowing the signs of stolen identity is crucial for your protection. Below, we’ll dive into 10 warning signs of identity theft, explore how to verify if your identity has been compromised, and provide practical tips on steps to take if you encounter any of these signs.

Understanding Identity Theft: 10 Key Signs

Identity theft involves the unauthorized use of your personal information to commit fraud or other crimes, often to gain financial advantages at your expense. This can range from someone using your credit card details to make purchases, to opening new accounts in your name. Recognizing the signs of identity theft can help you act quickly to minimize damage.

1. Unfamiliar Charges on Your Bank Statements

One of the earliest signs of stolen identity often appears as strange charges on your bank statements. If you notice transactions you did not authorize, it’s a strong indicator that someone may have access to your financial accounts. Regular monitoring of your statements allows you to catch these discrepancies early.

2. Unexpected Login Notifications

Receiving login notifications or two-factor authentication codes that you did not request is a strong indicator of identity theft. This suggests someone else is trying to access your online accounts. Enhancing your security settings and updating your passwords regularly can help mitigate this risk.

account login information

3. Missing Bills and Mail

An unexpected interruption in receiving your regular bills or financial statements might indicate that an identity thief has changed your mailing address. Thieves may divert your mail to another address to hide evidence of unauthorized activities. It’s important to follow up if you stop receiving expected mail.

4. Fraud Alerts from Financial Institutions

Pay attention to any fraud alerts issued by your bank or credit card issuer. These can be critical signs of identity theft, warning you of potential unauthorized activities under your name. However, stay vigilant as scammers may also send phishing alerts. Always verify by contacting your financial institution directly through known and trusted channels.

5. Sudden Drop in Credit Score

A sudden and unexplained drop in your credit score can signal unauthorized activity on your credit report. 

This could result from unauthorized credit applications or defaulting on payments you weren’t even aware of. Regularly monitoring your credit score can help you catch this type of activity early.

6. Denial of New Credit

If you apply for credit and are unexpectedly denied, it may be due to discrepancies caused by identity theft affecting your credit profile. This is often how people discover their identity has been compromised.

7. New Credit Cards or Loans You Didn’t Apply For

Discovering financial products in your name that you did not sign up for is a glaring warning sign of identity theft. Often, identity thieves will attempt to leverage your credit history to obtain new cards or loans. If you receive notices or bills for unfamiliar accounts, take immediate action.

checking credit loan

8. Notices of Data Breach

If you receive a notification that you were part of a data breach, it means your personal information could potentially be compromised and used fraudulently. Take all recommended precautions to secure your information following a breach.

9. Increase in Spam Emails and Robocalls

A sudden increase in spam emails and robocalls might suggest your personal information has been leaked. While these can be common, a sudden increase should be treated as a potential sign of broader identity theft issues. Be cautious of interactions from these sources as they could be attempts to gather more of your personal details.

10. Locked Out of Email or Online Accounts

Being suddenly locked out of your email or other online accounts can be a sign that someone has changed your passwords and taken control of your accounts. This indicator of identity theft often aims to harvest more of your personal information. Immediate steps to recover and secure these accounts are essential.

How to Confirm If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

Using fraud detection analytics is crucial in identifying early signs of identity theft. By integrating various tools and methods, you can detect early signs of fraud and protect your personal and financial information effectively.

1. Virtual/Digital Wallets

You can receive immediate notifications about digital wallet transactions, which can be crucial in identifying unauthorized activities quickly.

2. Account Alerts

Account alerts are vital for spotting unauthorized activities early. This helps you respond quickly to potential fraud.

fraud alert

3. Online and Mobile Banking

Quick access to your accounts means you can immediately check and address any signs of stolen identity that appear without waiting for monthly statements.

man holding a credit card and phone

4. eStatements

Electronic access to your statements allows for frequent and thorough review of your account activities, helping you spot any irregularities.

5. Credit Score Monitoring

Alerts on new credit activities serve as an early warning system, indicating possible identity theft if you did not initiate these activities.

What To Do If You Have Had Your Identity Stolen

If you encounter signs of identity theft, acting quickly is key to safeguarding your finances and personal information. It’s crucial to protect yourself from phishing attempts and other attacks that often follow identity theft incidents, as these are designed to extract more sensitive data. Here’s what you can do to regain control and prevent further damage.

1. Report Unfamiliar Charges

  • Immediate Notification. Contact your bank’s fraud department as soon as you spot any unfamiliar charges on your accounts.
  • Alert Financial Institutions. Inform your bank or credit card issuer about any unauthorized credit lines opened in your name to stop further misuse.

2. Limit Your Withdrawal Amount

  • Set Transaction Limits. Implement limits on your withdrawals to trigger alerts for unauthorized transactions that exceed these thresholds.

3. Investigate Credit Score Fluctuations

  • Monitor Your Credit. Regularly check your credit score for unexpected changes that could indicate warning signs of identity theft or errors in your credit report.

4. Online Account Security

  • Recovery Options. Use all available account recovery options to regain access to compromised online accounts.
  • Customer Support. Contact customer support immediately if recovery efforts fail.
  • Enhance Security. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) on all accounts for an extra layer of security.

5. Password Management

  • Immediate Action. Change all your passwords immediately upon receiving a breach notification or suspecting a breach.
  • Use a Password Manager. To keep your passwords unique and strong across different sites, consider using a password manager, which can also alert you to any compromised accounts.

Secure Your Financial Future with FinScore

When you suspect identity theft signs, it’s crucial to act swiftly—report unfamiliar charges, monitor your transactions, and manage your online security rigorously. For Filipinos recovering from such incidents, alternative credit scoring from FinScore offers a way to assess financial behaviors more comprehensively, aiding in restoring your credit standing.

Additionally, financial institutions can enhance their defenses against fraudulent identities with advanced solutions like FindSocial, a part of our suite of fraud detection tools. With the right strategies and tools, you can protect your financial identity and ensure your financial stability remains intact.

FinScore is a financial technology company in the Philippines that offers a powerful credit scoring platform and fraud detection tools based on alternative data, including telco-based data. 

As the pioneer in lending and scoring of the unbanked, we continuously provide fintech services that empower financial institutions, banks, and credit bureaus with flexible platforms to help them make insightful and reliable credit decisions. Contact us today to learn more about our products and solutions for financial institutions.