Identity theft is a growing problem around the world. When criminals commit identity theft, they steal your personal information such as credit card data or Social Insurance Number to commit fraud or other crimes. These offences not only affect your personal financial circumstances but also cost government and financial services millions of dollars a year. It may even be difficult for you to obtain loans, credit cards and a mortgage after an identity theft experience.
There are several ways in which you can protect yourself from identity theft.
Check your credit card information regularly
You should keep a regular check on all your credit card reports by simply logging into your online banking account. This allows you to check whether your information is correct and check for any suspicious activity, such as any unknown purchases. You can even sign up for notifications which alert you to any unusual changes that occur.
Shred all your financial statements, bank slips etc.
When you are discarding your bank deposit receipts, credit card statements, old documents or any other sensitive information, it should be properly disposed. You should either burn it in your fireplace or shred it using a paper shredder. This way, identity thieves cannot get their hands on any important information if they sift through your trash.
Shop online from secure websites
Whenever you shop online, be sure to only visit vendors that offer a secure credit card transaction process. Furthermore, they should use ‘https’ in the address bar for this signifies that the web page is secure and your data is encrypted. Otherwise, hackers can eavesdrop on your transaction and grab your private data.
Beware of Phishing Scams and Telephone Scams
With phishing, identity thieves can pretend to represent a company, a charity or a sweepstakes giveaway and ask you to click on a link and provide personal information. Do not fall for such a thing through email or online chat services. You should also not give out your personal information or financial information on the phone to anyone who might be pretending to be a bank, credit card company, charity, or other organization. Make sure you explain these types of scams to family and friends that may be a prime target, like the elderly.
Keep your personal information in a safe place
Avoid carrying your Social Insurance Card or passport around with you. Your Internet account passwords should not be too simple to be easily guessed. They should include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Keep an eye out for your purse or your wallet so that it doesn’t get into the hands of the wrong people who might end up stealing your personal information.