It’s not often talked about, but identity theft can be a really serious issue. From stealing your mail to hacking your computer, there are a number of ways that someone can use your credentials for criminal activity, and they’re only getting more sophisticated.
No matter how much you think you can spot a scam when you see one, it’s important to stay vigilant. This month, we’re bringing you the best advice on how to avoid identity theft and what to do if someone tries to take advantage of your personal information.
What information is at risk?
Thieves look for things like your; full name, date of birth, social insurance number, address, mother’s maiden name, passwords for online services, driver’s license, credit card information, bank account numbers, signature, and passport number.
They’ll use the information to access your bank account or open new ones, transfer balances, apply for loans and credit cards, make purchases, hide criminal activity, or receive government benefits.
How will you know if your identity has been stolen?
The best way is to monitor your accounts regularly and to check your credit score for anything unusual. Another sign is if you’re getting calls from collection agencies about unfamiliar accounts or if you’ve been denied your application for a credit card. This is a good time to take further action.
What to do if you suspect you’re the victim of identity theft?
Report it! Contact your local police department and file a report. After that, get in touch with all your banks and credit card companies to let them know what has happened. You’ll also want to connect with the two national credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, to place a fraud alert on your credit reports. Finally, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and report it to them, too.
What to do to prevent identity theft?
The best way to protect your personal information is to take preventative measures to keep it safe. Always be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls, or mail that asks for your personal or financial information. Only keep necessary identification on hand and put the rest in a secure place. Don’t let anyone else handle your credit cards, like at stores and restaurants, and cover your pin number every time you enter it. Never write down personal passwords and shred any personal information you throw in the trash. You can also consider personal liability insurance under your primary home or auto policy.
Your personal information is a valuable asset. Contact an agent today to see how we can help you protect it!
Source: RCMP – Identity Theft and Identity Fraud – http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/scams-fraudes/id-theft-vol-eng.htm