Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully acquires or uses another person's personal data typically for their own financial gain. The information is typically gathered by stealing mail, eavesdropping on public transactions (shoulder surfing), stealing information from computer databases, phishing, and via spam. While you probably can't prevent identity theft, you can minimize your risk by managing personal information wisely.
Helpful Tips To Reduce Your Risk Of Identity Theft:
- Shred and destroy unwanted documents that contain personal information.
- Bring your mail in daily - don't leave mail in your mailbox.
- Immediately report lost or stolen credit cards.
- Review and monitor your consumer credit reports regularly.
- Do not carry your social insurance card or your birth certificate. Keep these tucked away in a safe place.
- Be aware and note when your monthly financial statements arrive in the mail. Notify your financial institutions when they don't arrive when expected.
- Watch your financial statements and ensure all charges made are yours.
- Keep your ATM and Debit Card receipts, do not leave these behind.
- Shred every piece of mail containing personal and financial information.
- Never reveal your bank account, credit card, mother's maiden name or social insurance number over the phone (unless dealing with a trusted business or organization). Ask the caller to send information by mail.
- Keep a list of all your financial accounts such as account numbers, expiry dates, and customer help telephone numbers. Ensure this list is kept in a safe place & use to contact in case of lost or stolen cards.
- When creating passwords or PINs, do not use digits of your social insurance number, mother's maiden name, your birthdate, any part of your name (first, middle, last).
- Watch your credit card expiry dates, if you don't receive a replacement card prior to the date - contact the issuer.
- Consider making your telephone number unlisted or listed without your address.
- Sign all new credit cards immediately to prevent someone else from doing so.
- Beware of mail or telephone contacts informing you of prizes and awards - especially if they ask for personal or financial account information.