What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the process of stealing information or essentially someone’s identity. Criminals often use this information to commit financial crimes such as draining your bank account or using your credit card to withdraw money. This can result in legal issues, poor credit ratings or other serious implications.
What do Identity thieves tend to look for?
- Your birth date
- Your name
- Your address
- Banking info (Card numbers, PINs, account numbers)
- Social insurance numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Mother’s maiden name
- Any important username/password combinations
- Passport numbers
- Health card numbers
How to protect yourself from Identity Theft
- Make sure unused cards with personal information are cancelled and destroyed. Give special attention to credit cards, bank cards and cards that display your personal info. If these cards fall into the wrong hands, the effects can be detrimental.
- Make sure you check on your spending and purchases on a regular basis. This can help you identify if there have been any unfamiliar transactions. If you notice suspicious transactions, contact your bank ASAP.
- Destroy any computer hard drives you do not use anymore. Often people take their old hard drive and put it in their regular garbage. Hard drives contain sensitive information within, even if they have been formatted. Make sure you smash it or dispose of personal information safely.
- Try and make all financial information paperless. If you still use bills delivered via mail, make sure to retrieve them quickly from your mailbox and put them in a safe spot. If you have old hard copy files, shred them.
- Be careful who you talk to – if someone calls your phone pretending to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, and insists you owe money or you will go to jail, this is definitely a scam. Other common scams include people claiming they have a lawsuit against you and you have to call them back ASAP or someone who claims you have a computer virus.
- Always remember that government and financial institutions will never call to request personal information. Do not give any of the above information to anyone over the phone.
Your home insurance often has the option to purchase identity theft coverage at a nominal cost. Adding this coverage to your policy will help you recover from certain expenses involved in restoring your identity.