Protect Your Identity
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information for criminal gain. Typically, perpetrators commit identity theft for financial gain.
What information is typically targeted in identity theft?
Personal information such as passwords, identification, social insurance numbers and more can be sufficient for thieves to gain access to your private accounts.
How can thieves get my personal information?
Over the years, thieves have become increasingly creative in finding ways to steal information. To obtain your information, thieves may steal your mail, wallet, passport or online passwords.
Telephone and text message scams have also targeted unsuspecting consumers. In the past few years, there have been an increase in text message scams that claim to represent major financial institutions. The texts will claim that the recipients account has been suspended and the text will ask users to click a link to submit their account information.
Another rapidly growing avenue of identity theft is online. Resourceful scammers have found ways to mimic popular banking sites or social media channels in order to gain access to an individual’s.
How is the information used?
Nearly all identity theft is committed for financial reasons. With your personal information, scammers can:
- Open credit cards in your name
- Establish a line of credit on your name
- Access your bank accounts and withdraw funds
- Make purchase through your bank or credit account
How can I protect myself?
- Be extra cautious when it comes to emails, texts or calls that appear to come from your financial institution
- If you are unsure if the contact is legitimate, call your institution’s fraud department to verify
- Keep a close eye on your account statements and bills
- If you notice anything unusual, contact your financial institution immediately
- Store important personal documents in a locked, secure place when not in use
- Empty your mailbox daily
- If you plan to be on vacation, have a trustworthy neighbour collect your mail
- Do not post personal information online – even if your account is set to private
- Use unique passwords for each online account
- Do not shop online on non-secure websites or on public wifi connections
- Be sure to completely wipe out any electronics before reselling them
- Do not use an ATM if it appears to have been damaged or tampered with in anyway
- Call your insurance broker before you are targeted
- Your broker can recommend coverage to protect you against losses incurred as a result of identity theft
What if I have been the victim of identity theft?
If you have been the victim of identity theft, it is important to act quickly.
The RCMP provides specific directions for people that have been the victim of identity theft. For details, visit the RCMP website here.