This week’s focus is on identity theft.
Identity theft is a reality and has become more common with advancements in technology. It involves the unauthorized collection and use of your personal data, usually for criminal purposes.
Essentially, criminals can use your personal information – your name, date of birth, address, social insurance number, credit card information and other banking details – to create a false identity to open bank accounts, secure credit, obtain utilities and services, rent vehicles, equipment or accommodations, and even get a job.
There are a number of steps you can take to protect your identity and your information:
– Minimize your risk by being cautious and selective about sharing your personal information.
– Order personalized cheques with just your initials and last name. Others won’t know if you sign your cheques with your full name or initials, but your bank will.
– Sign your credit card as soon as you receive it. Consider putting “Photo ID Required” below the signature strip.
– Don’t give out your credit information over the phone or by email unless you know the person with whom you’re communicating or you initiated the contact.
– Photocopy both sides of important documents (passport, driver’s license, credit cards, etc.) and keep them in a safe place so you have a record of your personal information in the event the documentation is lost or stolen.
– Use a shredder to destroy unwanted but sensitive documents.
– When choosing passwords for bank accounts and credit cards don’t use obvious choices like your birth date, children’s or pets’ names, or your mother’s maiden name. Do not share your passwords.
– Notify police immediately if you feel you’re identity has been compromised. You should also notify the credit card companies if your cards are stolen and request a fraud alert be placed on your name and social insurance number. You should also call Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 and TransUnion at 1-800-663-9980.
By taking these steps, you’re doing your part to prevent, identify, report and stop identity theft.