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From the Experts at

How Can You Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen?

November 14, 2013 by Gerri Detweiler

How To Tell If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

Identity theft is everywhere. Here are a few common signs that your identity has been compromised:

1. A sudden increase in an account balance

An unexpected increase in the balance of one or more credit card accounts could be a possible sign that someone made charges in your name.

2. Your card is declined

If you pay your bills on time and haven't overspent your credit card's limit, your card is unlikely to be declined. If it is, pay attention. Don't just shrug it off and try again later. Find out why.

3. Your credit score drops

One good reason to monitor your credit score is to watch for any unexplained drops that could be a sign someone is using and trashing your credit.

4. Unauthorized inquiries

When you apply for credit - for a new credit card, for example - the lender checks your credit report or scores. This creates an inquiry on your credit report. If you are keeping an eye on your credit reports and find inquiries you didn't initiate, someone may be trying to open credit in your name.

5. A mysterious new account

If you're keeping an eye on your credit reports you'll be able to watch for any new accounts that you did not open. The sooner you spot unauthorized credit opened in your name the faster you can shut it down.

6. Debt collectors are calling

You know you've paid your bills on time. So why is this debt collector calling and demanding payment for something you didn't buy? It could be that you've been hit by an identity thief.

A Way to Spot Identity Theft Early: Watch Your Credit

Monitor your credit accounts regularly. This is easiest to do by checking online for charges you don't recognize. For help monitoring your credit, subscribe to a free service, like's free Credit Report Card. It provides two free credit scores and lets you check your credit once a month for free. If your scores drop because of fraudulent activity, you'll be able to tell.

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Meet Our Experts

Gerri Detweiler Gerri Detweiler is's Director of Consumer Education. She focuses on helping people understand their credit and debt, and writes about those issues, as well as financial legislation, budgeting, debt recovery and savings strategies. She is also the co-author of Debt Collection Answers: How to Use Debt Collection Laws to Protect Your Rights, and Reduce Stress: Real-Life Solutions for Solving Your Credit Crisis as well as host of