More than 26 million U.S. residents had their identities stolen in 2016, according to the federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. But types of identity theft vary greatly, and so does the potential impact on the victim.
Roughly 13 million people in 2016 had their credit card numbers stolen, a crime that rarely results in a financial loss to the victim. About 8.1 million people experienced bank-account fraud — forged checks, phony ATM withdrawals or fraudulent debit-card charges — crimes in which the victim often has only two business days to report to avoid liability.
Another 13 million people suffered more serious kinds of identity theft in 2016. Their names were used to open new financial accounts, get fake IDs, steal tax refunds or government benefits, and even avoid arrest on criminal charges. (Many individuals reported more than one kind of identity theft.)
Victims of serious identity theft often pay for it. About 1.5 million people suffered losses of $100 or more in 2016, and about 450,000 lost more than $1,000. Others may have had loans or leases denied due to bad credit. A few may have ended up with warrants for crimes they didn’t commit.
In all cases of identity theft, it’s best to find out about it early. The damage will be minimized, and there will be a greater chance the miscreants will be caught. Here are 11 ways to tell if someone’s stolen your identity.
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