Wednesday, March 9, 2016

How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

As one of us has been a victim of identity fraud, we can speak first hand about the experience. It is a very frustrating, time consuming process. The best way to deal with identity fraud is to do whatever you can to avoid it from happening in the first place. Today we are going to talk about how to protect yourself.

But first lets define Identity Fraud:

Identity fraud (or identity theft) happens when criminals steal your personal information, and use it to identify themselves as you. The thieves can then use this information to make requests or authorize transactions on your financial accounts. 

These transactions can include:
  • changing your address
  • taking out a new loan or a line of credit in your name
  • ordering an additional credit card
  • transferring funds or withdrawing money
Like we discussed last week, since identity fraud usually happens without your knowledge, it usually only comes to your attention when you go to apply for credit or the like that comes with a credit check.

Tips To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
  • Put important identification (ID) in a safe place. This includes your Social Insurance Number, birth certificate, passport and any other cards or documents that show your personal details.
  • Before throwing them away, shred all documents that have your personal information (such as your name and address) on them—including old credit card statements or other old ID.
  • Share your personal information only with companies you know and trust. Don’t give out more than you need to.
  • Don’t leave personal information lying around at home, in your vehicle or at the office.
  • Keep your wallet or purse out of reach of other people—in crowds, in shopping malls and while on public transportation.
  • When making a purchase, keep your card in sight, and make sure that the card returned to you is yours.
  • Carry a minimum number of credit cards or other important personal information with you.
  • Lock your household mailbox if possible. It is common for thieves to look for credit card statements, new credit cards and credit card applications.
  • If you are going to be away, arrange for a trusted neighbour to pick up your mail. You can also go to your local post office (with identification) and ask for Canada Post’s Hold Mail service. There is a charge for this service.
  • Order a free copy of your credit report at least once a year from one of the two credit reporting agencies in Canada, TransUnion and Equifax, to make sure that all the accounts listed belong to you.
  • If you did not initiate a phone call, don’t give out any personal information or a credit card number over the phone, even if the caller claims to be from a legitimate company. Instead, get a name and number from the person calling and verify that the number and company are legitimate before calling back.
  • When online, make sure the website you are using is secure (look for the lock icon or the “s” in the “https” prefix in the Web address) before transmitting personal information.
  • Ensure that your firewall, anti-virus and spyware systems are up-to-date to protect personal information on your computer.
  • Don’t give out any personal information by e-mail, because it is not a secure method of transmission.
Prevention is key in dealing with identity fraud and now you have steps you can follow to protect yourself.

What steps do you follow to protect yourself from identity fraud? Have you been a victim?

Russel Lalovich
Office: (519) 966-0444
Cell: (519) 995-5620

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