Identity theft: How to protect yourself
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information to use it for criminal purposes. Criminals can use your bank card, credit card, driver’s license or social insurance number (SIN) to impersonate you and steal from your bank account, apply for loans, buy stuff with your credit card, and even get a passport in your name.
10 tips to protect yourself
1. Check your bank and credit card statements regularly
Report any errors or unauthorized purchases to your financial institution immediately.
2. Report a stolen credit or debit card immediately
Call your financial institution or card provider as soon as possible, so they can cancel your card.
3. Check your credit report once a year
You can get your credit report (also called Consumer Disclosure) once a year at no charge. Contact both TransUnion or Equifax to get your free report. Simply fill out the form and mail it back to them. Visit Ordering your credit report and score for more information.
4. Choose a PIN that’s hard to guess and don’t share it with anyone
Shield your PIN when you use your credit or debit card at a checkout or ATM.
5. Beware of phone and email scams
Scammers may pretend to be calling from your financial institution to steal your information. Trust your instincts. If you have any doubts, don’t share your personal information over the phone or online. Instead call your financial institution to check.
6. Protect your Social Insurance Number
Your SIN is a confidential number and important for your privacy, so find out how to protect it.
7. Shred documents containing personal or financial information
Don’t throw them into the garbage or recycling bin without shredding them first.
8. Carry only essential ID in your wallet
Leave your SIN card, passport and birth certificate at home.
9. Protect the information on your phone, computer and mobile device
Use hard-to-guess passwords and two-step authentication. Your devices contain a lot of personal information, and you don’t want that falling into the wrong hands.
10. Check the web address when you shop and bank online
Look for “https” and the padlock symbol in the URL. This tells you that the site is encrypted. For more advice, read our tips on how to shop smarter online.
What to do if your identity is stolen
Have you unexpectedly been denied a loan? Found unauthorized charges on your credit card? Discrepancies in your financial statements? If you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft or fraud, here’s what to do:
Call the police and file a report.
Call your bank/financial institution and credit card company. Close any accounts that may have been compromised.
Call both national credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your credit report.
Report any missing identity documents or cards, such as your driver’s licence, health card or immigration documents to the appropriate organization.
Report identity theft and fraud to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501).
You can also call us
If you have a home, condo or tenant insurance policy with The Personal, you’re entitled to Identity Theft Assistance at no extra charge.
If you think you someone might have stolen your identity, call us anytime, night or day, for confidential advice and help.
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The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc. in Quebec and The Personal Insurance Company in all other provinces and territories.
The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive, expert advice.