What is identity theft?
Identity theft doesn’t just happen in movies. It’s when someone is using some of your personal information, including their name, bank information, credit rating, or even your reputation for criminal purposes. According to Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre, there are over 12,000 Canadian victims of identity theft each year. Check out our helpful tips to make sure you do what you can to protect yourself and your business.
Why does identify theft happen?
Unlike in the past when our personal information was printed in documents and kept safely at home, today, all our information is stored and used online making it easier to access.
What information is valuable to thieves?
Thieves are looking for any combination of the following:
- full name and address
- date of birth
- Social Insurance Number
- mother’s maiden name
- user names and passwords
- driver’s license number
- personal identification numbers (PIN)
- credit card information (numbers, expiry dates and the three digits printed on the back)
- bank account numbers
- passport number
How do they by your passwords?
Information can be stolen without using a password, or by getting inside your technology devices through spywear, which bypasses password protection.
In almost all instances, thieves get your numbers by pretending to be someone they aren’t:
- a phone call pretending to be a bank, credit card company, etc. to “verify” your information
- an email that tells you money is due and you need to “verify” some information
- a technology warning that says you must call a specific number because your computer or device has been hacked
- a virus that infects your computer from an attachment and plants spywear on your device
Don’t be afraid!
There are many easy things you can do to protect yourself:
- never give out any personal information listed above, over the phone or over the Internet
- don’t carry all your documents (especially your S.I.N. card) with you
- shred documents with personal information before you put them in the recycling
- if you receive a notice that your computer has been hacked, don’t call the number. Take your device to a technology store
How can you find out if your identity was stolen
Monitor your financial accounts frequently and check your credit report regularly for any unusual activities. If you receive calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar accounts, or if you applied for credit and were unexpectedly turned down, investigate further.