News & Resources

Identity theft: Be careful when returning gadgets

Jan 28, 2014 Dave King

Following the holiday season, many Americans across the country head back to malls and shopping centers to return gifts they don't want. According to WCPO-TV, people who are bringing back gadgets may need to be concerned about identity theft.

One consumer told the news source that he returned his iPad to Best Buy and it was resold with his name and credit card information still on the device. To avoid such an incident, people need to wipe their laptops, smartphones and tablets clean before returning them, as it is clear stores can't always be relied upon to complete this task.

During this time of year, short term lenders and other financial institutions need to step up their ID verification procedures to ensure applicants aren't using stolen names to help reduce identity theft occurrences. It may also be a smart idea for these lenders to provide customers with a document outlining some of the major warning signs of this crime, such as:

- Errors on bank and credit card statements: Many people just look at credit card statements and toss them in the trash after paying the bill. However, this could be a major mistake, as they may be missing out on some identity theft clues, according to U.S. News & World Report. This document is one of the first places people can look to determine if they've become a victim, as identity thieves often use credit cards in the names of other people.

- Mistakes on credit reports: Consumers who watch TV probably see commercials for free credit reports on a daily basis. While these may be annoying, there are many benefits to checking this document, such as searching for signs of identity theft. There is no need to sign up for those websites though, as each of the three major bureaus is required to provide a free copy annually.

- Debt collectors are calling: Another telltale sign of identity theft is receiving calls from debt collectors without having any past due accounts. It is easy to just brush these calls off, but there is a chance they didn't just have the wrong number. After receiving an unsolicited call, people need to be sure to look into their bank accounts and credit cards to see if they were a victim of identity theft.