Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft

Oct 01, 2018 | Melissa Clark


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In 2012, over 17,000 Canadians were victims of identity theft. In 2014, that number jumped to over 20,000, an increase of nearly 20% in 2 years!  Fortunately, the total losses dropped from just over $16 million to $10.5 million during that same period.  Crooks are relentless in finding ways to obtain your personal information. 

They use the stolen information to gain access to your financial accounts, hack into your online accounts, and/or defraud others. Once they access your personal information, identity thieves can also:

- spend money from your accounts
- open new bank accounts
- change your passwords and contact information for your online accounts
- apply for loans, credit cards and benefits in your name
- rent an apartment or car
- commit other crimes using your credentials

Common methods to obtain your personal information include:

- stealing your mail
- looking for personal documents in your trash
- tampering with ATMs or card machines in shops to steal your banking information
- taking personal information through public sources (e.g., telephone books and social media)

Your identity may also be stolen from your online transactions. If you don’t change your passwords and strengthen your web security features regularly, it can become easy for someone to access your:

- email (to steal personal and financial information, schedules etc.)
- online shopping accounts (to steal credit card and address information)
- banking accounts (to transfer funds, open new accounts or apply for loans)
- credit card accounts (to shop and apply for new cards)
- government accounts (to change your contact information on government IDs, access benefits, etc.)

If you believe you or a family member are a victim of identity theft, check out the RCMP website for specific instructions http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/id-theft-vol-eng.htm

Consider some of the following strategies to protect your identity:

- empty your mailbox daily (if you’re going away on vacation, ask friends or trusted neighbours to pick up your mail);
- store ID cards and documents, such as birth certificates, social insurance numbers and passports, in a secure place;
- shred any documents and items with personal information once you no longer need them;
- check balances on your statements from banks, credit cards and companies regularly;
- report any strange activities in your bills and statements, however minor, right away (fraudsters often steal in small amounts from many cards to evade detection)
- check your credit report once a year for errors or strange activities.

For more information take a look at https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-avoid-or-recover-identity-theft