Identity theft and identity fraud


Overview

Maybe you never opened that account, or ordered an additional card, but someone else did....someone who used your name and personal information to commit fraud. When an imposter uses your name, your Social Insurance Number (SIN), your credit card number, or some other piece of your personal information for their use - in short when someone appropriates your personal information without your knowledge - it's a crime, pure and simple.

What is identify theft?

Identity theft refers to the preparatory stage of acquiring and collecting someone else's personal information for criminal purposes. As of January 8, 2010, Senate Bill S-4 became law, making it illegal to possess another person's identity information for criminal purposes.

Identity theft techniques can range from unsophisticated, such as dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes. Technology, mainly the Internet, facilitates more elaborate schemes, such as skimming, phishing, and hacking as criminals gather profiles of potential victims. Computer spywares and viruses, designed to help thieves acquire personal information, are an emerging trend.

Warning sign(s) - How to protect yourself

  • A creditor informs you that an application for credit was received with your name and address, which you did not apply for.
  • Telephone calls or letters state that you have been approved or denied by a creditor that you never applied to.
  • You receive credit card statements or other bills in your name, which you did not apply for.
  • You no longer receive credit card statements or you notice that not all of your mail is delivered.
  • A collection agency informs you they are collecting for a defaulted account established with your identity and you never opened the account.

What is identity fraud?

Identity fraud is the actual deceptive use of the identity information of another person (living or dead) in connection with various frauds (including for example personating another person and the misuse of debit card or credit card data).

Criminals can use your stolen or reproduced personal or financial information to:

  • Access your computer.
  • Access your email accounts.
  • Access your bank accounts.
  • Open new bank accounts.
  • Transfer bank balances.
  • Apply for loans, credit cards and other goods and services.
  • Make purchases.
  • Hide their criminal activities.
  • Obtain passports or receive government benefits.

There is no reason to be paranoid; there's just reason to be careful. If someone wants desperately to target you, they can probably get a lot of information about you -- so you just need to minimize the criminal's opportunities to get that information. You can make yourself a harder target and that is the best defense. If you are a victim, do not panic, in most cases you will not be out any money. When you've been careful about disclosing your personal information the losses will likely be attributed to the banks and or companies associated with the fraud.

While you probably can't prevent identity theft entirely, you can minimize your risk. Identity theft is on the rise and it can happen to anyone. It can happen to you. By managing your personal information wisely, cautiously and with an awareness of the issue, you can help guard against identity theft.

Warning sign(s) - How to protect yourself

  • Identity theft can occur over the Internet or telephone, or via fax or regular mail. Therefore, be particularly wary of unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls or mail attempting to extract personal or financial information from you.
  • Ask yourself if you really need all of the identity documents you carry in your wallet or purse. Remove any you don't need and keep them in a secure place instead.
  • Periodically check your credit reports, bank and credit card statements and report any irregularities promptly to the relevant financial institution and to the credit bureau.
  • During transactions, it's safer to swipe your cards yourself than it is to allow a cashier to do it for you. If you must hand over your card, never lose sight of it.
  • Always shield your personal identification number when using an ATM or a PIN pad.
  • Memorize all personal identification numbers for payment cards and telephone calling cards. Never write them on the cards.
  • Familiarize yourself with billing cycles for your credit and debit cards.
  • Trash bins are a goldmine for identity thieves. Make sure you shred personal and financial documents before putting them in the garbage and.
  • When you change your address, make sure you notify the post office and all relevant financial institutions (your bank and credit card companies).

Were you a victim?

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Toll-free: 1-888-495-8501

Competition Bureau of Canada
Toll-free: 1-800-348-5358

Ontario Provincial Police
Toll-free: 1-888-310-1122

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Toll-free: 1-866-461-3222

Better Business Bureau
(BBB Locator Tool)


Fraud: Recognize, report and stop it!

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