Identity Theft

Protect your finances from credit card fraud, and know how to deal with fraud if it happens to you

Using credit cards comes with more risks than just creating debt problems. The last thing you want is someone stealing your identity and using your credit card as their own. If they get a hold of your identity, these thieves could make small charges and try to hide them in your statements, or even open up new accounts in your name. Protecting yourself from savvy identity thieves is essential to protect yourself and your finances. It’s just as important to know how to deal with fraud if it happens to you.

If you are dealing with credit difficulties after identity theft, we can help. Contact Consolidated Credit today at to speak with a trained credit counsellor. If you are struggling with debt you created on your own, we can help you too, call us now or you may request a Free Debt Analysis, and a counsellor will get back to you shortly.

Protect your online identity

Identity theft can happen online when people shop, bank, or make financial transactions on the web. Take the following steps to make sure your account information is secure:

  • Only make purchases with your credit card when you are using a secure server. One way you can tell if a connection is secure is by looking for web addresses that start with “https”
  • Do not send personal information like a social insurance number by email. A reputable company will not ask for this information over the internet.
  • Open emails from people you know. If the email has an unknown sender, or if the subject line doesn’t seem right, don’t open it!
  • Never enter personal account information through social networks or phone aps
  • Change your passwords often, and never share them with anyone.
  • Set the security settings on your social networks so strangers can’t view personal information about you.
  • Only shop on reputable websites from companies you recognize.
  • Close accounts you are no longer using, and make sure all your information is removed.
  • Before you throw out an old computer or hard drive, make sure to wipe them clean of all your information.
  • Do not shop or bank online from a free wireless connection or on a localized hot spot.

Protect your identity while you’re out

When you are shopping at the mall, you also need to be careful of the old ways criminals can use to steal your information.

  • Keep your wallet in a place where it cannot be seen. Keep your purse closed so your wallet cannot be easily taken.
  • Only carry credit cards that you actually use; don’t carry your social insurance card around with you – keep it in a safe place at home
  • If any cards in your wallet have your social insurance number included, then ask the company if it can be removed, or don’t carry that card unless you need it.
  • Don’t ever let a store clerk take your card where you can’t see it when charging you.
  • Don’t write your social insurance number or driver’s license number on a cheque
  • Don’t use ATMs from financial institutions you don’t know. Always carry emergency cash to avoid this situation.
  • Make sure no one is watching you when you put in your pin at an ATM or debit card reader.

Protect your identity at home

Even at home, it’s essential to keep personal information private to ensure your identity doesn’t get stolen.

  • Shred any financial documents and credit card statements you are throwing out.
  • Cut up old debit and credit cards if they are no longer being used.
  • Get a locked mailbox so no one can access your statements as they arrive.
  • Go to the bank to pick up cheques rather than having them mailed to you.
  • Lock all personal files away in a filing cabinet that only you can access.
  • Check all credit card statements for unknown charges and report it to your credit company if something looks suspicious.
  • Look over your credit report on a yearly basis and look for unknown accounts or inquiries.

Protect your identity at the office

Even though you feel like you are on good terms with your coworkers, you should still take the needed steps to protect your information while at work.

  • Keep your purse, wallet, and electronics locked up in the office.
  • Don’t leave personal information like financial documents or credit cards in your car.
  • Don’t go online shopping or engage in banking while in the office.
  • Don’t save your passwords to a shared work computer.

What to do if your identity is stolen

Once you suspect your identity has been stolen, it’s best to take the following steps:

  • Contact your creditors. Contact your bank or credit card company if you have had your credit card or cheques stolen or wrongfully obtained. You may request they put an alert on the card so you will be contacted before any further transactions are processed.
  • File a police report. You’ll need this to report the theft. Keep the original and make copies for others who need it.
  • Notify the two major credit reporting agencies: Equifax and TransUnion, and ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file.
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone or email. Go to https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca or call 1-888-495-8501. This is a government organization designed to track, investigate and help victims of fraud.
  • Investigate new accounts. Review your credit report, preferably from both major bureaus, and contact all unknown creditors listed under New Accounts or Inquiries. Explain that you’re an ID Theft victim and ask them how you can file a report. They’ll likely want proof of your identity, and a copy of the police report.
  • Check your address. Check with Canada Post to see if a change of address has been filed. Also notify them if you suspect the imposter has used the Canadian Mail in their crime (for example, if they have mailed change of address notices or credit applications).
  • Check your cheques. If you suspect that your cheques are being used fraudulently contact the major credit verification bureaus to file a fraud alert.
  • Check your passport. Alert Passport Canada to make sure no one orders a passport with your information (either a replacement or a new one). You can visit their website at https://www.ppt.gc.ca or contact them by phone at 1-800-567-6868.

What if you know the thief?

Many times consumers know the thief that stole their information. It may be a coworker, friend or even a relative or loved one. This can create additional problems since the victim is afraid of getting the thief in trouble with the law. Identity theft is a serious crime; however, and if you do not handle the situation appropriately you may be stuck with the after-effects for years to come. For helpful guidelines describing what to do when you know the criminal, visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

Additional Resources

Several websites provide additional helpful information for both preventing and dealing with identity theft. You may also want to read Consolidated Credit’s Identity Theft free booklet.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre:

https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca

Financial Consumer Agency of Canada:

https://www.fcac-acfc.gc.ca/Eng/Pages/home-accueil.aspx

Public Safety Canada:

https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/le/bs/consumers-eng.aspx

Equifax Canada:

www.equifax.ca

Trans Union Canada:

www.transunion.ca/