What is Identity Fraud?
Identity Fraud is when someone uses your personal or financial information for their benefit. They may apply for credit, purchase items online with your credit card etc. Identity Fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country.
How to minimize Identity Fraud
Although you may not be able to prevent Identify Fraud entirely, the best defense is to minimize a criminal’s opportunity to obtain your personal information.
Protect your credit card number. Don’t give your credit card number on the phone or by electronic mail, unless you have initiated the contact or know the person with whom you are speaking.
Pay attention to your billing cycle. If credit card or utility bills fail to arrive, contact the companies to ensure that the bills have not been illicitly redirected.
Notify your creditors immediately if your credit cards are lost or stolen.
Don’t give your SIN out unless absolutely necessary. Use other types of personal identifiers when possible.
Use strong passwords for your financial accounts. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name or other easily obtainable information.
Protect your PIN numbers. Key in your PIN numbers privately when you use direct purchase terminals, bank machines, or phones.
Be aware of what you throw out. Shred personal financial information such as statements, credit card offers, receipts, insurance forms, etc.
Be cautious when providing your personal information online. You may receive emails from financial institutions, Internet service providers, and other organizations asking you to provide personal information online. Reputable firms generally do not ask for personal information in this manner. If you are at all uncertain, look up their phone number in the phone directory and call them. Don’t click on any links in the email or cut and paste them in you browser – chances are the link will take you to a false website.
Get a credit report annually. The two major credit reporting bureaus offer free credit reports if sent by mail.
What to do if you have become a victim of Identity Fraud
Notify your bank and creditors immediately by phone and in writing. ~Close your bank accounts, cancel your credit cards and set up brand new ones. Also get a new ATM card with a new PIN
Report the crime to the police immediately and ask for a copy of the policy report. You’ll need to provide proof of the theft to the organizations you’ll have to contact later.
Contact the credit bureaus. ~Request that a “Fraud Alert” be place on your files. ~Ask to be contacted directly before opening any new account or granting credit under your name. ~Ask for your credit report so that you can pinpoint any false or incorrect information.~ Request paper or electronic copies of credit applications where an impostor has used your SIN; pass this info to the police. If you can’t get credit bureau reports providing identity theft, ask the creditor for a letter that confirms that an impostor has tried to get credit using your SIN or has actually received credit fraudulently. The letter should state that you are not responsible for purchases made by someone using your SIN fraudulently; (that’s proof that you will not be liable for the debt). ~Do a follow-up three months after to ensure that someone has not tried to use your identity again.
Contact PhoneBusters National Call Centre, advise them of your situation and request your file number. Then go to the PhoneBusters website and complete an Identity Theft Statement. Forward this statement to the bureaus and organizations that accepts them. An Identity Theft Statement helps you notify financial institutions, credit card issuers, and other companies that the identity theft occurred; that you did not create the debt or charges’ and it gives them the info they need to begin an investigation.
Advise your phone, cable, and utility companies that someone using your name could try to open new accounts fraudulently.
Contact Human Resources Development Canada immediately if you suspect that someone has been using your SIN or that your SIN has been compromised in some other way.
Advise the Passport Office in the case of passport theft.
Contact Canada Post if you suspect that someone is diverting your mail
(As taken from the Wawanesa Insurance Company Identity Fraud pamphlet)