Identity theft is a major contributor to damaging your credit. What makes the problem far worse is that you will spend countless hours collecting evidence and correcting your credit report that might have been spent productively. There are, however, a few simple things you can do to help nip identity theft in the bud. One is to monitor your bank accounts by phone or through the online services provided by your bank.
Monitoring your bank accounts requires that you invest a few minutes two to three times each week that will potentially save you untold hours fixing a problem after the fact. The first step is to choose a bank that offers either online monitoring of your account or telephone monitoring of your account – or both. If the bank does not offer either that bank is living in the stone ages and should be avoided. Once you choose a bank that offers these services, you must be willing to invest a few minutes every few days to look for checks or debit card transactions that appear to be questionable.
It helps, of course, when you are monitoring your account to keep an accurate record of each and every check written or debit card transaction you made. Accurate records will allow you to check the bank's records to see if they match your own. In checking your transactions you must take into account those checks written that have not yet cleared. If you do this your account balance and your bank's records should reflect the same figure.
When you are monitoring your account you must look for any transaction that is questionable or unrecognized. Identity theft is not the only reason that a transaction is not recognized. Banks make errors from time to time. If you think your bank made an error or if there are transactions that you do not recognize or cannot otherwise account for, call your bank's customer service department immediately and start an investigation. It is to your benefit to do so – even if the mistake is in your favor. You put the bank on notice that your identity might have been stolen and you set the wheels in motion to correct any bank error that occurred. Remember, a bank error in your favor is not a gift to you.
If you discover that your identity has been stolen take all of the proper steps to fix the problem. The earlier you are able to intervene on your behalf the easier it will be to correct the problem.