Protect your personal information – don’t become a victim
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is someone wrongfully obtaining and using your personal identifying information to commit fraud or theft or for other purposes.
Video Description: This video is a reenactment of various people wrongfully obtaining information for the purposes of identity theft and the typical results from this.
Did You Know?
- In Canada, in 2010, $9.4 million was reported lost by 18,146 identity fraud victims. - Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
- It takes 12 months, on average, for a victim of identity theft to notice the crime. - U.S. Federal Trade Commission
- In the USA, in 2005, the leading target age groups were 18-29 and 30-39. Identity thieves may need a stolen identity that approximates their own age. - U.S. Federal Trade Commission, January 2006
There are many ways someone can access your personal information:
1. Mail Theft
Superboxes and apartment boxes are more of a target than individual mailboxes for mail theft. This may include redirection of mail as well as theft of mail.
Be vigilant and report suspicious activities around mailboxes.
Pay attention if you do not receive mail that you had expected.
Don’t let mail build up in your mailbox.
2. Intercepting Garbage
refers to directing people to web sites which look
but are in fact bogus sites designed to access personal information. For example, if your bank’s web site is www.mybank.ca, beware of www.mybank.com, www.my_bank.ca, or similar variations - they may be fake!
are programs that may be loaded onto your computer, usually by e-mail, that enable other computers to remotely access your data. The threat can be eliminated through proper use of Internet security programs or firewalls, used in conjunction with anti-virus software.
3. Theft of Wallets and Purses
Your identification is often more valuable than the cash.
Do not carry unnecessary identification (passports, birth certificate, Social Insurance card).
Report stolen credit and bank cards.
11.6% of identity theft was through computers
- 2005 Identity Fraud Survey Report
Share personal information on trusted and secure web sites only (secure sites begin
Practice safe computing - Do not open suspicious e-mail. Use anti-virus software to filter e-mail.
Wipe your computer hard drives if you sell ordispose of an old computer.
Use a firewall or Internet Security Software to prevent hackers from accessing your data.
5. ATM Fraud
Tampering with automated teller machines (ATMs) and point of sale terminals enables thieves to read your debit or credit card number and personal identification number (PIN).
Use familiar ATMs.
ATMs with security cameras (including machines located inside businesses and in business-hours branches) are less likely to attract criminals; seek out these machines when possible.
Be suspicious if your card is "eaten" by the machine and someone approaches you to say the same thing happened to them, then advises you to enter your PIN again.
Limit your after-hours ATM use.
Watch for "shoulder surfers" who watch you enter your PIN
Keep a watchful eye on your monthly statement, as well as your balance, and report any problems to your bank. - Tom Harper, publisher of ATMmarketplace.com
What is done with your personal information?
Charge purchases or withdrawing funds from your accounts.
Establish new accounts in your name (and not paying the bills).
Change mailing addresses so you will not notice their activity.
Rent a premises for a marihuana grow op.
Apply for a mortgage for a marihuana grow op.
Access government social programs (EI, pension, social assistance).
Use false identification to avoid prosecution, access government services in your name or allow unwanted visitors to enter the country.
How will you know if your identity has been stolen?
You learn of a credit application that you did not make.
Regular statements do not appear in the mail.
A payment is charged to you that you did not authorize.
A collection agency informs you that you have defaulted on a payment you did not make.
What can you do if you think you are a victim?
Notify your bank or credit card company IMMEDIATELY.
Contact Equifax 1-800-465-7166 and Trans Union (877) 525-3823 and request a
fraud alert be placed on your credit record.
Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre - formerly Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501.
Record the dates and times of what you do and whom you speak with.
Quick Tips to prevent identity theft:
Never throw away bank records or other documents in a readable form.
Never give your credit card number over the telephone unless you make the call.
Never give your PIN number to anyone.
Reconcile your bank account often and notify your bank of discrepancies immediately. Watch your account activity online.
Be cautious about sharing your personal information.