Insurance

Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

With technology today, it's more important than ever to keep your private information safe.

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information (like your name, Social Insurance Number, credit card number, etc.) without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes. It has become a serious problem for many Canadians and has been discussed at length on numerous television broadcasts across the country.

Identity theft is serious. While some identity theft victims can resolve their problems quickly, others spend thousands of dollars and weeks of time repairing damage to their good name and credit record. Some consumers victimized by identity theft may lose out on job opportunities or even be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative information on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be arrested for crimes they did not commit.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Carefully check over your bank and credit card statements every month. Immediately report any discrepancies in your monthly statements to your financial institution
  • If you suspect theft, obtain your credit report through such organizations as Equifax and TransUnion and verify all information
  • If you are a victim of identity theft, follow-up every six months to ensure that someone has not tried to use your identity again
  • If you lose your credit cards or they are stolen, file a police report and contact all your creditors to advise them of the fraud and to halt all transactions immediately.
  • Protect your Social Insurance Number. Do not give it out, except when it is absolutely necessary, such as when starting at a new job or when dealing with federal government departments.
  • Do not carry your SIN card in your wallet. In today's world, there are likely to be very few instances where you will need to know your SIN number. If you do use it more often than most, memorize the number and leave the card in a safe place at home.
  • Speaking of leaving things behind, don't carry your birth certificate around with you unless absolutely necessary, especially if you already have a driver's licence.
  • Be wary of pre-approved credit card applications and shred unwanted ones. Thieves can often obtain the cards under your name. If you do get a new credit card, sign it as soon as you receive it and cancel credit cards that you no longer use.
  • Shred or rip up bank statements, receipts, or other documents containing account numbers and personal information. Do not recycle the paper.
  • If you move, ensure your mail is forwarded or re-routed so that it can only end up in your hands.
  • Never provide personal information such as SIN, credit card numbers, or a PIN over the telephone unless you initiate the call.
  • In the modern world of passwords-for-everything, we often have a difficult time remembering the passwords for all of our access levels. However, it is important that you avoid keeping a written record of your bank PIN number and computer passwords, as it allows a thief to easily access all of your information by stealing a single document. And, of course, never keep this information in your wallet.
  • Put passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts but avoid using easily available information like your birth date, your phone number, or your mother's maiden name. Don't give out your passwords to friends or co-workers - especially if you use a generic password for all accounts.