Consumer Alert: Staying ahead of identity theft

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Claims of identity theft jumped almost 50% from 2019 to 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

But what are the signs that someone’s identity has been stolen?

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Many scams go hand-in-hand with identity theft. Fraudsters use personal information to steal mail, abuse credit and more. Some thieves will actually jack up credit scores — so look out for any big decline or improvement.

“And some of that just has to do with, they’re building it up so they can go for the big credit scam on you and, you know, as far as charging your card and building up that credit.”

Roseann Freitas, Hawaii Better Business Bureau marketplace manager

Signs of identity theft do not have to be obvious, like a charge on a billing statement, either. They can come through things that were not received.

“The bills stop showing up at your mailing address,” Freitas said. “And it could be someone has actually changed your mailing address. And now everything is being sent to them and they’re again, stealing your identity.”

The Better Business Bureau advises potential identity theft victims to talk to an official and check their financial statements to verify if any fraudulent changes have been made.

“You didn’t receive a piece of mail, call that company, see what address is on file,” Freitas said.

“Also, go check your credit report. And you can go to annualcreditreport.com and see if anything has changed and it will show you if you’ve had new accounts opened or things have closed.”

Roseann Freitas, Hawaii BBB Marketplace Manager

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Once it is confirmed that something is wrong, contact your bank and freeze all financial accounts. If victims are experiencing mailing issues, they will need to contact the Postal Service to inform them of any fraudulent address changes. Visit identitytheft.gov for step-by-step instructions on all sorts of identity theft.

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