Dealing with businesses online? Beware of Identity Theft!

Are you worried about identity theft? You’re not alone. According to a new survey from TransUnion, the vast majority of consumers are concerned that they will become a victim of idenidentity thefttity theft.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • Eighty-three per cent of consumers are worried that their personal data will be stolen from a government agency or business in the next two years
  • Fifty-three per cent have already been victimized (either directly or someone in their household). Their data was stolen during online fraud or via a government agency or business.

“The best offence against identity theft is a solid defence that actively protects your information. If you take the appropriate measures and remain vigilant for threats, you significantly reduce your chance of being a victim of identity theft,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“As a rule of thumb, never divulge more personal information than you absolutely have to. Only do business with companies that you know to be reputable and that have solid security measures in place to protect your personal data,” says Schwartz.

If you are shopping or doing other business online, here are some tips on how to vet businesses and avoid threats to your personal data.

The pop-up

While you are surfing the internet, avoid the temptation to click on pop-up ads. They’re generally not ads at all, but a conduit for you to go to a phony business where thieves are waiting to help themselves to your identity.

The same goes for unsolicited emails from companies. Never click on those links unless your are sure of the source.

Bricks and Mortar

While the business you are dealing with may legitimately operate online only, do they have a physical address and phone number? Not only will this help you should you need to contact them after you make your purchase, it generally helps prove a company’s legitimacy.


If you are handing over your credit card number, you want the site to have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which scrambles your information and blocks fraudsters from getting at it.

How do you know if a site has this? There should be a padlock or an unbroken key on your screen which will demonstrate that the site is encrypted. If it’s not there, or if the key is broken or lock is open, don’t proceed with the transaction.

Too good to be true?

If you are shopping around for an item and stumble on something that is considerably cheaper, it might be a great bargain. It might also be a lure from identity fraudsters.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The fine print

A good test is to scour the company’s site to read their privacy policy, which should describe how they treat their clients’/customers’ personal data.  Make sure that they have adequate protection in place.

A major red flag? Not having a privacy policy at all.

Have you been a victim of identity theft? Are you trying to pick up the pieces, including trying to get your finances back on track? We can help. Call our trained counsellors at or visit our free online debt analysis.

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