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The 6 things you can do to help prevent identity theft

Identity theft is when someone gains access to your personal information, like bank accounts or your driver’s license number, for the purposes of financial gain. Any piece of identification that allows some else to pretend to be you can be used to steal your identity and your money.

Once a thief has your personal information they can use it in a lot of ways including gaining access to:

  • Your computer and email accounts
  • Your bank accounts
  • Your credit cards

 

Which allows the thief to:

  • Open new bank accounts in your name
  • Transfer money out of your bank account
  • Apply for loans and credit cards
  • Make purchases
  • Obtain passports or receive government benefits

In 2016 alone, almost 900,000 Canadians were the victims of identity theft – up from 700,000 in 2015*(1).

Identity thieves can strike at any time and can target anyone using the Internet, telephone, fax or regular mail. Always be extra cautious when you receive unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls or mail that asks for personal or financial information from you.

6 ways to help prevent identity theft

1. Change is good:

One of the easiest ways to protect your privacy is to change passwords and PINs regularly and never use the same password or PIN for different accounts.

2. Take it out of the trash:

If you throw away credit card bills, banks statement or other personal information, shred it first.

3. Check on late bills:

If your credit card bill doesn’t arrive in the mail, that bill may have been stolen. Call your credit card carrier to prevent purchases you did not authorize.

4. We already know that!:

Your bank or credit card company will never call you and ask for your account numbers. They already have that information! And they will never, EVER, call you to ask for personal information like your password. If you call them, they may ask for this information, and that’s OK, because they want to ensure you are who you say you are.

5. If it’s too good to be true…:

It’s a safe bet that you will never win a contest you didn’t enter and you can’t win a lottery you didn’t purchase a ticket for. Identity thieves will often call claiming you won something and all you have to do is provide them with some personal and financial information. Don’t.

6. Know the warning signs:

Identity thieves are always coming up with new and inventive ways to steal your identity but you can make it harder on them by watching for these signs †(2)which may mean that someone is trying to impersonate you:

  • A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not apply for.
  • Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
  • You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
  • You no longer receive credit card statements or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered.
  • A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account
  • When it comes to protecting your identity, you can never be too skeptical or too cautious.