Reports of identity theft in the U.S. doubled last year, and the problem isn’t going away anytime soon.

Identity theft is a stressful situation: Thieves steal your personal information to sell to others, or access your accounts and take your money. People across the U.S. are receiving text message after text message, with scary warnings like those pretending to be from the bank, saying your account is locked because of abnormal activity — but it’s all fake.

This phishing scam is just one way that hackers are trying to steal your identity.

Last year, there were nearly 1.4 million reports of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission — that’s almost double from 2019. Many people reported their information was misused to apply for government help, like unemployment insurance.

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That’s why it’s important to recognize the red flags so that you can protect yourself from identity theft.

Identity theft warning signs

One of the first warning signs you should look out for: your mail.

If you start getting bills or statements for accounts that you never set up, or your regular bills stop showing up, it could be a sign that someone has changed your billing address.

Another warning sign: If you start to receive suspicious messages, particularly messages that are seeking to authenticate accounts that you did not set up. Someone else might be setting those accounts up in your name.

Keep an eye on your credit, and pay attention if your credit score suddenly gets better or worse. A…

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