ID Theft: Spot the Red Flags

According to the Red Flag Rule regulation, there are 26 identity theft red flags companies identify in their training programs. While these red flags are intended to protect company data and avoid corporate breaches (especially in financial institutions), these red flags are also useful on a small scale, to simply protect personal information or when working directly with customers in a sales position.


  1. Consumer report fraud alerts are a red flag.
  2. Notice of a credit freeze when a consumer report is requested – consumers who place credit freezes are unlikely to apply for credit.
  3. Abnormal credit activity such as new cards, accounts, spending limits reached, etc.
  4. When working with a customer, identification documents provided may look forged or altered if their true intent is identity theft.
  5. Customer identification photo should be consistent with their appearance.
  6. Information on ID is inconsistent with information provided to open an account.
  7. ID card information such as signature may be inconsistent with signature on file.
  8. Application appears forged, altered, or reassembled.
  9. Personal information on ID does not match info on credit/consumer report, such as a SSN not issued or mismatching addresses.
  10. Lack of correlation between Social Security and birth date is a red flag.
  11. Personal information associated with fraud activity is a red flag.
  12. Suspicious addresses such as mail drops, prisons, or phone numbers associated with pagers or answering services are red flags.
  13. Social Security Number matches another customer.
  14. Address or phone number matches other customers or applicants.
  15. Applicant with incomplete application is unable to provide additional information.
  16. Personal information is inconsistent with info on file with other banks or creditors.
  17. Existing customer is unable to answer verification questions.
  18. Shortly after address change, creditor receives request for additional users.
  19. Consumer reporting agency finds discrepancy in consumer’s address.
  20. Most of credit used for cash, jewelry, or electronics, then misses first payment.
  21. Drastic changes in payment patterns, spending patterns, and credit use.
  22. Longstanding inactive account suddenly becomes active.
  23. Mail sent to individual is repeatedly returned, undeliverable, despite account activity.
  24. Financial institution is notified customer is not receiving mailed statements.
  25. Unauthorized charges or transactions on accounts.
  26. Financial institution is notified they’ve opened an account for a person engaged in identity theft.
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