Identity theft has become an increasingly popular crime in Canada as a result of recent advances in technology. Identity theft involves stealing or hijacking the identity of another person - or in some cases of a business - and provides an effective means to commit other crimes.
Vital information such as name, address, date of birth, social insurance number, and mother's maiden name need to be acquired in order to complete the impersonation. The identity thief can take over the victim's financial accounts, open new bank accounts, transfer bank balances, apply for loans, credit cards and other services, purchase vehicles, take vacations and so on.
Tips to Reduce Identity Theft
- Always shred documents which contain any personal information - Never leave receipts at bank machines, in trash cans or anywhere else. Destroy all paper work you no longer need.
- Avoid keeping a written record of your bank PIN number, social insurance number and computer passwords, and never keep this information in your wallet or purse.
- Avoid mail or telephone solicitations disguised as promotions or surveys offering instant prizes or awards designed for the purpose of obtaining your personal details including credit card numbers.
- Cancel credit cards you do not use regularly and keep a list of the ones you do use.
- Get caller ID on your phone and do not answer any number you do not recognize. Let these calls go to call answering and listen to them later. If you do not talk to the fraudster, you can not be scammed.
- Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards and any discrepancies in your monthly statements to the issuing credit card company.
- Never loan your credit cards to anyone.
- Never provide personal information such as Social Insurance Number, date of birth, credit card numbers or PIN over the telephone unless you initiate the call.
- Photo copy the contents of your wallet - Do both sides of each license, credit card etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
- Promptly remove mail from your 'secure' mailbox after delivery and do not leave pieces of mail lying around your residence or work site.
- Shred or otherwise destroy pre-approved credit card applications, credit card receipts, bills and related information when no longer needed.
- Sign all credit cards when you receive them. You can also indicate on the back photo id required.
- Use an RFID wallet to protect smart cards.
If Your Purse / Wallet Is Lost or Stolen
- Cancel all cards immediately.
- File a police report in the jurisdiction where your purse/wallet was lost or stolen. This will show the credit card providers that you were diligent.
- Call the national credit reporting organizations immediately. It is important to place a fraud alert on your name and SIN number. This alert will flag your information to any company who checks your credit, advising them your information was lost or stolen. They have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
- Equifax Canada 800-465-7166
- Trans Union of Canada 866-525-0262
- Human Resources Development Canada 800-206-7218 (Select Option Number 3)