What is identity theft?
Identity theft essentially involves a fraudster stealing
or using the identity of another person (or of a
business) and using that information to comit fraudulent
transactions and activities. All that a fraudster needs
to impersonate you are the following personal
Your date of birth
Your social insurance number
Your mothers maiden name
With such information, a fraudster can then conduct
fraudulent transactions such as opening bank accounts,
apply for credit products such as credit cards, and
loans, obtain cellular phone service, purchase
automobiles, and the list goes on.
How can I prevent myself from being a Victim?
- Sign credit cards once you receive it.
- Destroy all credit cards once they have become
expired or if you do not use them.
- Carry only the identification information and
credit cards that you need. Do not carry your social
insurance card around; leave it in a secure place.
- Pay attention to your billing cycles and follow
up with your creditors and utility companies if your
bills do not arrive on time.
- Carefully, check all of your credit card
statements. If you notice a charge on your statement
you do not recognize or are missing statements,
contact your credit card company immediately.
- Destroy all sensitive paperwork you no longer
need, such as bank machine receipts, receipts from
credit card purchases, utility bills, and any
document that contains personal and/or financial
information such as pay stubs. Destroy pre-approved
credit cards before disposing the offer letter.
- Secure all personal information in your home or
office so that is is not accessible to anyone else.
- Do not give personal information out over the
phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless
you are the one who initiated the contact and know
the person or organization with whom you are
- Password-protect your credit card, bank, and
phone accounts so that nobody can access those
accounts or make changes to them. Also, do not keep
a written record of your PIN number, social
insurance, or computer passwords where an identity
thief can easily find them. Do not carry such
information in your purse or wallet.
- Order a copy of your credit report from the
major credit reporting agencies at least once every
year. Pay particular attention at any unauthorized
credit inquiries and accounts opened.
- Keep all unused Cheques in a secure location.
- Key in personal identification numbers privately
when you use direct purchase terminals, bank
machines, or telephones.
What to do if your identity is stolen
Should you find out that you are a victim of identity
theft, there are three critical steps that should be
Step One: Contact your bank and credit card
company to verify that no unauthorized activity has
Step Two: Contact the two major credit bureaux in
Canada TransUnion and Equifax to alert them of the
situation. They are then able to place notes on your
file which will inform potential credit grantors of the
situation. Credit grantors will then scrutinize your
identity before granting credit to you or someone
purporting to be you.
Step Three: Contact the local police department
and make a statement about the situation. This may prove
useful in defending yourself against debts incurred by a
fraudster purporting to be you.
How do I know if I am a victim of identity theft
- One of your creditors informs you that they have
received an application for credit with your name,
address and/or Social Insurance Number.
- Telephone calls or letters state that you have
been approved or declined by a creditor to which you
- Telephone calls from merchants or your credit
card company stating that they have received an
order from you and are calling to verify the
authenticity of the order.
- You no longer receive your credit card
statements or you notice pieces of mail are no
longer delivered to you.
- Your credit card statement includes unusual
- A collection agency informs you they are
collecting for a defaulted account that has been
established with your identity but not opened by
- Emails from financial institutions or online
payment service stop arriving or alert you of
suspicious activity or of transactions you have not