Identity Theft FAQ for Canadians
Identity Theft Canada
The article below discusses identity theft as one of the most common criminal offences in Canada, figuring out some ways to prevent it.
In most general terms, identity theft occurs when someone takes possession of your personal data including your name, address, social security number, the number of your credit card or driving license, etc. The crime is committed with the intention to take illegal advantage of your identity, making purchases with your credit card. In more severe cases, identity thieves may try to even sell your property and embezzle the money.
Recent statistical information shows that Canada’s largest credit bureaus, Equifax and Trans Union, receive over 1,800 identity theft complaints from Canadian citizens every month.
How to deal with identity theft?
Federal, provincial, and local authorities are trying really hard to prevent and fight identity theft in the country, while the providers of banking and financial services in Canada have integrated elaborate identity theft preventing solutions into their websites so as to keep the personal information of their clients safe and secure.
One of the ways in which identity thieves lay their filthy hands on your personal information is by stealing your incoming mail such as bank statements, letters with information about your monthly payments and taxes due, etc. You can prevent theft by making sure that your mailbox is locked with a reliable padlock or another mechanism of this nature. Some identity thieves are so impudent that they could file a fake change of address form, redirecting your mail to wherever they need. Oftentimes, they dive in the dumpsters to scavenge for pieces of paper containing personal and business data.
In addition to securing your mailbox, there are a number of useful things you can do to prevent identity theft.
First and foremost, do not share your personal information over the internet unless you are on a secured website (look for a yellow padlock in the right corner of your screen, up or down). By the same token, do not provide any personal information over the phone unless you have made the phone call and know who you are talking to.
In order to effectively prevent identity theft, always deposit outgoing mail only in the mailboxes of Canada’s postal service.
Ensure you file a Change of Address Notification with Canada Post at your local post office or online and inform all financial institutions of your change of address, before you move.
Do not hesitate to contact your credit card or utility companies, if credit card statements and utility bills are not delivered regularly in your mailbox.
If you plan to take a long holiday abroad, ask your neighbor to collect your incoming mail for you and keep it until you return. Last but not least, do not forget to shred any sheets of paper containing personal or business information before you throw them away.
If you notice that your bank statement contains unauthorized transactions or your credit card company informs you that it has received an application for another credit card in your name and you haven’t filled it out, do not hesitate to call the police. It is almost certain that you’ve fallen victim to identity theft. You have to also notify your bank or creditors, explaining that your personal information has been stolen, and request cancellation of all fraudulent transactions on your behalf. Remember that you can minimize losses from identity theft if you act in a quick and responsible manner.
© Art Branch Inc. 2006-2012