27+ Signs of Identity Theft to Know in 2024

May 9, 2024
5 min

Protect yourself from future breaches

You can try Cloaked for free for 14 days

Identity theft is a growing concern. The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network received over 5.4 million reports in 2023—19% of them were for identity theft. An even bigger problem? You might not even know someone’s using your identity.

From endless data breaches to sophisticated phishing scams to dangerous links, it can feel like there are countless ways your identity might get stolen. Luckily, you don’t have to stay in the dark. There are a few signs you can look for if you suspect your identity has been stolen. Being aware of these signs and passively looking for them goes a long way toward protecting you against identity theft. 

In this guide, we discuss several signs of identity theft to look out for and how to protect yourself going forward. 

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is a crime where someone steals your personal information and uses it for financial gain or to commit fraud. It’s like someone sneaking into your digital wallet and looking at your credit cards, social security number, and other sensitive information.

Thieves may use various techniques—phishing scams, keyloggers, or good old-fashioned dumpster diving to wreak havoc on unsuspecting individuals. A basic understanding of these techniques and some vigilance are mission-critical to protecting your privacy in the modern world.

Types of Identity Theft

There are some types of identity theft to be on the lookout for: 

  • Financial identity theft: Financial identity theft is the most common of all. It involves someone stealing your personal information to use your credit card or open a new one and empty your bank account.
  • Tax identity theft: A criminal might use your social security number to file a fraudulent tax return and steal your tax refund.
  • Medical identity theft: Medical identity theft is when a criminal uses your health insurance or Medicare to get treatment, medicines, or other benefits you’re entitled to according to your health insurance policy.
  • Child identity theft: Most children don’t have a credit report until they turn 16. This allows criminals to open credit accounts in their name with little possibility of anyone finding out. Some victims don’t realize their identity was stolen until after they apply for a student loan or start working.
  • Estate identity theft: A criminal uses a deceased person’s identity to steal money or open new accounts. Estate identity theft is less common because you can prevent most of them with just one key step—make sure all three consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) place a death notice on the deceased person’s credit reports.
  • Synthetic identity theft: Synthetic identity theft involves creating identities using a combination of real and fake information or information that belongs to multiple individuals to create a new persona. For example, they might grab one person’s social security number and another’s name and address.

Signs of Identity Theft to Know

Criminals always leave clues. These clues help you pick up on instances of identity theft. However, the signs may differ based on the type of identity theft you’re dealing with. 

Here’s an extensive list of signs that could indicate identity theft:

1. Unauthorized Transactions in Statements

Read your monthly bank statement whenever you receive it and check every transaction, even small ones. If you notice any unauthorized charges, contact your bank and request they freeze your account to prevent more unauthorized transactions.

2. Strange Credit Card Charges

Credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft, with a whopping 98,000+ reports in Q4 2023. Carefully audit your credit card statements when you receive them. Don’t ignore small transactions during the audit—the scammer might have tried a test transaction to verify the card is active.

3. Hard Inquiries

Hard inquiries require approval. If you notice hard inquiries on your credit report, it shows someone else applied for a credit card in your name. Even if they have been unsuccessful so far, they might get a credit card approved at some point, max out the card, and leave you with the bill.

4. New Accounts or Loans

Financial institutions generally notify you about new accounts or loans via email or phone. But if the thief used a different address and number, the only way to identify new accounts or loans in your name is through your credit report. This is why regularly checking your credit report is mission-critical.

5. Communication for Purchases You Didn’t Make

Received a call, email, or text for a purchase you didn’t make? A scammer might have used your identity to purchase an item using your credit card or account. While this is a sign of identity theft, it can also be a trap. If you receive an email offering product information and deep discounts with a link or a call asking for information like an account number or password, know that someone’s trying to steal your personal information.Protect your personal information: Have you been a victim of identity theft, brushing scam, or a data breach? Try Cloaked—a comprehensive privacy solution with a range of features that help ensure the privacy and security of your data.

6. Data Breach Disclosure

Criminals have managed to break some of the most sophisticated infrastructure in the past. When such data breaches occur, companies must report them according to the state’s disclosure laws. Of course, the criminal might already have your personal information by the time you receive the disclosure, so it’s worth checking your accounts to ensure nothing looks out of the ordinary.

7. Unexplained Calls from Debtors

It’s frustrating to receive a call from someone asking you to repay a loan you never took. But it may not entirely be the caller’s fault. Someone might have stolen your identity and used it to take out a loan in your name.

8. Abrupt Change in Credit Score

The scammer might open new credit card accounts and take out loans. Unsurprisingly, they don’t intend to pay back the amount due on the card or loan. This translates to a drop in credit score. While a credit score isn’t money or a tangible asset, it represents your financial reputation, so you must safeguard it.

9. Denial of Credit

If your loan or credit application was rejected and you’re confident that you meet all the eligibility requirements, including a good credit score, consider checking your credit report. You’ll likely find someone abusing your credit. If you do, contact your financial institution immediately and report the incident to the FTC.

10. Returned Payments

If your bank calls to inform you that a check bounced or your debit card payment isn’t going through, even though you believe your bank account has money, you might be dealing with identity theft. Check your bank account statements to track your funds. If you find something fishy, ask your bank to put a hold on your bank accounts and associated cards.

11. Unexpected Medical Bills

An identity thief might use your identity to receive medical care instead of stealing your money. If you’ve received an expected medical bill for medical care, medication, or equipment without receiving care, call your insurance company to inform them about the fraud.

12. Maxed Out Insurance Benefits

The insurance company emails or calls customers when they reach their benefits limit. But when you receive this email or call without actually getting any medical care, there’s a chance someone stole your identity and used your insurance benefits. The thief might have stolen your information during a data breach or through phishing.

13. Errors in Medical Records

Did you notice an error or incorrect information in your medical records? Or maybe your insurance just emailed you refusing to cover a pre-existing condition you don’t have. In either case, you should contact the insurance provider and investigate the problem.

14. Verification or Authentication Texts for Unrecognized Accounts

When a thief uses your personal information to sign up for a new account using your email, you might receive a verification or authentication text. It’s never a great idea to open links when you’re not sure about the source. Be proactive about privacy: Mask your email and phone number when signing up for online accounts to keep unsolicited messages and fraudsters away. Use Cloaked to generate multiple identities, each with a unique phone number and email, and keep your primary contact details private.

15. You Lost Your Tax Refund

Thieves might redirect your tax refund to a different address or account. Contact the IRS about your tax refund and ask where the check was mailed. If a thief stole your tax refund, they likely changed the address to receive the tax refund check from the IRS.

16. You Receive Tax Documents from an Unknown Employer

Not all criminals are after money. It’s possible someone stole your identity and used your Social Security number to avoid or pass a background check when applying for a job. If you receive tax documents from an unknown employer, someone probably used your identity when applying for a job.

17. A Failed Background Check

Surprise! You’re now a criminal and disqualified from your dream job. Does that sound painfully familiar? Then it’s possible someone stole your personal information, created a new identity using that information, and committed a crime. If this has happened to you, seek guidance on how to rectify this error.

18. Changes in Investments

If you see changes in your investment portfolio that you didn’t make or approve the broker to make, someone might have stolen your identity or gained access to your existing account. Immediately change your password if you notice an unauthorized change and inform your broker about the incident.

19. Police Knock at Your Door

Police might show up at your door with an arrest warrant if someone stole your identity and used it to commit a crime. The problem usually goes away when you offer the police proof of identity and seek help to take corrective action.

20. Not Receiving Expected Mail

Haven’t received your credit card’s monthly statement or important bills in the mail? An identity thief might have rerouted your mail to obtain more information about you or to commit deed fraud. Call your bank, credit card company, and anyone you receive mail from to correct your address. Then, investigate your bills and statements to look for unauthorized charges.


21. Lost ID

Not all criminals are digitally savvy. Some prefer to steal your identity with old-school techniques like stealing your ID. If you notice your resident card, passport, or driver’s license missing, you might be a victim of identity theft or become one at some point.

22. Utilities are Cut Off

It’s frustrating to have your electricity or water cut off, especially when you pay bills on time. If you don’t have any overdue amounts payable to the utility provider but got cut off, it’s worth investigating if someone stole your identity. The thief could’ve intercepted your checks or gained unauthorized access to your bank account.

23. You Received a Package You Didn’t Order

Getting a package is always exciting, but not quite if you or anyone at your home didn’t place any orders. The address on the package may be yours, but the name might not be. This could mean someone stole your identity but didn’t change your address or planned to intercept the package before you received it.In some cases, the package could also hint at a brushing scam.

24. You’re Unable to Log Into an Account

You’ve saved your password securely in a password manager that automatically inputs login details when you open a certain website. This time around, you’re asked to enter the password manually.When you do, you see an error—this could indicate that your account was hacked and your password changed.Protect your passwords from phishing: Use the Cloaked password manager to securely store your passwords. Cloaked auto-fills passwords whenever you go to the respective login page. If you go to a login page (by clicking a link) and the password manager doesn’t automatically fill in the details, that’s a sign that you’re on a phishing page.

25. Something Has Changed Since You Last Logged In

Websites often change their interfaces, but they also share this update via email. If you notice a new look and haven’t received any communication, you might be a victim of a phishing attack, where an individual has replicated a website and is trying to trick you into entering your personal information or credentials. To avoid falling for such a scam, always verify the website’s URL to ensure it’s the right site, preferably by typing the address directly into your browser rather than clicking on links in emails.

26. Suspicious Login Activity

Most banks, software companies, and social media platforms email you when they notice a suspicious login attempt. This indicates that someone has your email and potentially your password, but couldn’t log into your account either because the password was incorrect or you had 2FA set up.

27. Your Children Receive Credit Card or Loan Offers

Children are easy targets. They don’t check their credit report or bank statements regularly. They’re also more likely to ignore emails about unauthorized charges and ignore other signs of identity theft. 

If you’ve just received mail with a credit card application in your child’s name, they have most likely become a victim of identity theft.

What to Do If Your Identity Is Stolen

Think someone might have stolen your identity? Here’s what you should do next:

Know the Early Warning Signs

The early signs we discussed above can help identify potential cases of theft. While they’re not always 100% accurate, it’s important to monitor them so a real instance of identity theft doesn’t slide through the cracks.

Determine What Was Stolen

To determine what the identity thief stole:

  • Review your accounts: Look for unauthorized transactions and unfamiliar charges in your bank and credit card statements. Even the smallest discrepancy can help you identify a red flag.
  • Check credit reports: Credit reports are a window into your financial soul. Any new accounts, credit inquiries, or accounts in arrears that aren’t yours will show up in credit reports.
  • Monitor your mail: Monitor your snail mail for unexpected bills, statements, and credit offers. If your mail is addressed to someone else or for accounts you didn’t open, look into it.
  • Track online activity: Check your email and social media for suspicious messages and unauthorized access. Scammers often leave breadcrumbs everywhere they go, so following the trail might help.
  • Stay alert for odd behavior: If you notice any odd behavior like receiving calls from debt collectors for debts you don’t owe or being denied credit for no good reason, don’t brush it off. Trust your gut and dig deeper.

How to Report Identity Theft

Once you confirm identity theft, report it to:

  • Your financial institution: Call your financial institution in case of financial identity theft. Have them freeze your account and flag suspicious activity.
  • The FTC: File a report with the FTC to bring Uncle Sam into the picture. The FTC will walk you through the process and offer resources and guidance.
  • Law enforcement: Report the crime at your nearest police station or online. They’ll document the details, start an investigation, and hopefully bring criminals to justice.
  • Credit bureaus: Give Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion a heads up about identity theft. Place a fraud alert on credit reports to increase security.

Prevent Further Identity Theft

The best way to protect your identity? Never let your personal data wander the web unprotected. A comprehensive privacy solution like Cloaked ensures your private data won’t end up in a criminal’s hands. Here’s how Cloaked protects your data and privacy:

  • Identity theft protection: Identity theft protection from Cloaked offers $1 million in comprehensive coverage and other benefits.
  • Unlimited identities: Hackers can’t steal information if it’s not available on the internet to steal. Cloaked helps you create unique identities. Each identity has a unique name, email, and phone number. When signing up for services online, use this information. This protects your primary email and phone number.
cloaked identities
  • Secure information storage: Store sensitive information in Cloaked where nobody, including the Cloaked team, can access your data. This encrypted space is your digital fortress where you can safely store bank account information, API keys, or anything else you need.
cloaked storing
cloaked sharing
cloaked password manager

FAQs on Identity Theft

It’s natural to have questions when trying to protect your identity or dealing with identity theft. We answer some common identity theft questions below.

How do you check if your ID has been used?

You can check if your ID was used by checking your bank and credit card statements, monitoring your email, and periodically reviewing your login history. However, the specific documents or accounts to investigate depend on the type of identity theft you’re dealing with.

How do I know if my SSN is compromised?

There’s no surefire way to determine if your SSN is compromised. However, if you believe your SSN may be compromised, look for signs like unauthorized activity on your account, receiving statements for an account you didn’t open, or unexpected changes in your credit report. If you notice any of these signs, take swift action.

How can you tell if someone is trying to steal your identity? Can you check your name for identity theft?

There’s no surefire way to check your name for identity theft, but you should always keep your eyes and ears open. Being aware and vigilant about signs of identity theft we discussed above, especially unauthorized transactions in your account, new accounts you didn’t open, and a sudden drop in your credit score.

The Bottom Line on Identity Theft: It’s Time to Secure Your Identity

Preventing identity theft is much easier than recovering money from a cybercriminal who lives in another country. Thankfully, safeguarding your personal information is possible, especially when you have access to a privacy solution like Cloaked.

You can use Cloaked to create identities, securely share information, and store passwords in an encrypted digital space. Cloaked also offers identity theft protection—an insurance that covers damages of up to $1 million from identity theft.

Don’t wait for your identity to be stolen. 

Get Cloaked today!

Protect yourself from future breaches

You can try Cloaked for free for 14 days
View all
Data Privacy
May 9, 2024

8+ Best Privacy.com Alternatives for Virtual Cards [2024]

8+ Best Privacy.com Alternatives for Virtual Cards [2024]

Arjun Bhatnagar
Data Privacy
May 9, 2024

8+ Best Privacy.com Alternatives for Virtual Cards [2024]

8+ Best Privacy.com Alternatives for Virtual Cards [2024]

Arjun Bhatnagar
Data Privacy
May 9, 2024

15 Tax Refund Scams You Need To Know in 2024

15 Tax Refund Scams You Need To Know in 2024

Arjun Bhatnagar
Data Privacy
May 9, 2024

15 Tax Refund Scams You Need To Know in 2024

15 Tax Refund Scams You Need To Know in 2024

Arjun Bhatnagar
Data Privacy
April 30, 2024

The Hidden Economy of Your Data

The Hidden Economy of Your Data

Cloaked Team
Data Privacy
April 30, 2024

The Hidden Economy of Your Data

The Hidden Economy of Your Data

Cloaked Team